Gaspar Noé suffered a near-fatal brain haemorrhage in early-2020, and that experience inspired the implosive, gut-wrenching and magnificent Vortex. It was permeated with extraordinarily brooding and profoundly bleak exploration of ageing, mortality, and the engulfing chaos that precedes death. He covered this grim ultimate truth of life through claustrophobic vividness, wintry sparseness, and stunning formal bravado where we simultaneously see the two halves of an aged couple – each approaching death in their own sinewy, disorderly routes – through split screens. The film, unsurprisingly, reminded me of Haneke’s masterful Amour – where too an aged couple grappled with a harrowing downward slide – while the stunning use of dreary, incisive split screens made me draw parallels with two other brilliant works – where this formal choice achieved similarly discomfiting parallel gazes – viz. Godard’s Numéro Deux and Carrasco’s The Year of the Discovery. The narrative was steadfastly centred on an aged couple residing in a cramped apartment in Paris packed with books, artefacts and memories – comprising of “husband” (legendary Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who picked up French for the role, and is therefore seen speaking in a deliberate, halting manner), a film critic writing a book on cinema and dreams, who suffered heart attacks in the recent past, and “wife” (veteran actress Françoise Lebrun, most famous for her role in Eustache's remarkable The Mother and the Whore), a former psychiatrist, who’s irrevocably slipping into the dark vortex of dementia – who we observe in parallel with stark, voyeuristic intimacy. The film began with Françoise Hardy’s haunting song Mon Amie la Rose that fittingly set the tone for this devastating chamber drama where one’s left with paralyzing sense of inevitability as things go from bad to worse.
Director: Gaspar Noe
Genre: Drama/Chamber Drama/Marital Drama