By ALI NADERZAD – May 18, 2007
Studied boredom has seemed to animate characters from French cinema recently as exemplified in the works of directors like Gaspar Noe (I Stand Alone; 1998, Irreversible; 2002), Virginie Despentes (Baise Moi; 2000) and now Olivier Assayas, whose latest film, “Boarding Gate,” is being screened at Cannes. So far in this still-young 60th edition of the festival, “Boarding Gate” (starring Asia Argento and Michael Madsen) caused the most number of walk-outs among the press corps present at the screening today. In one of the first scenes Sandra (played by Asia Argento) visits Miles (Michael Madsen) at his office to conclude their breakup. The conversation that lumbers on between the two has the look and smell of post-breakup rancor but somehow there is still an empty, yearning between those two, the kind that you find in skin flicks. Or is it just a game they’re playing? Either way, out of nowhere Madsen suddenly asks the fallen ingenue: whatever happened to that science-fiction website of yours? Didn’t you create some kind of whats-his-name superhero? Smiling, she tells us his name is “Vortex.” Is the audience in on the joke? Miles mimics superman flying and reminds Sandra how this Vortex she created could control people with the sweep of a hand; he then challenges her to control him—she leaves, disgusted. Sadomasochistic tendencies seems to fill the ether in Boarding Gate and this type of game-playing is repeated throughout the film, Miles and Sandra alternatively taking on dominating and submissive roles. The film will titillate arthouse film amateurs but those close to the Assayas opus might be left wondering what to make of the whimsical Boarding Gate. The Cannes Festival isn’t exactly the best place to gauge a film’s shelf life, however, so time only will tell if this movie holds up. During an interview following the screening, Argento said she was happy with yet another role as femme fatale and when asked if she would ever play the middle class bourgeois wife roles, she scoffed at the notion, saying she isn’t bored yet playing killers, prostitutes and femme fatales, and wondered if this was not her fate (insinuating that she felt validated by it). Boarding Gate is one of three movies presented at this year in which Argento has a role (she plays in Catherine Breillat’s Une Vieille Maitresse and has a small part in Abel Ferrara’s Go-Go Tales). Both Asia Argento and Olivier Assayas are children of famous directors (her father is don dada of gore Dario Argento, he is Jacques Remy’s son).