A man arrives home from a business trip to discover his wife missing yet the door to their apartment chained from the inside. That’s about as coherent a moment to be found in this teeth-grindingly, blood-boilingly infuriating cinematic trial. As Dan (the Willem Dafoe-esque Klaus Tange: A Royal Affair) explores the gothic Art Nouveau building he and his wife live in, seeking clues to her disappearance — from the likes of the Miss Havisham up on the seventh floor, who tells a tale of her husband vanishing within the structure as well — we are “treated” to a phantasmagorical nightmare that’s like an art school film project gone horribly awry. The mishmash of nonsensical, garish imagery features lots of sexualized violence against women, including recurrences of a huge knife artistically — in black-and-white! — slashing across a woman’s nipple and closeups on stab wounds to the tops of human heads that look like vulvas; the writer-director team of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani clearly believe this is very clever. The final image, the film’s Rosebud moment, is so risible that I laughed out loud, and confirmed my suspicion that what the film believes itself to be exploring in oh-so grandiloquent a manner is men’s supposed utter traumatization by women: by their bodies, by the fluids that come out of their bodies, by their sexuality, by their very taunting existence. Nothing here is supposed to be rational, however, so let’s be irrational about it: Fuck this nasty shit.
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