There are moments within Antoine Barraud’s sophomore feature Portrait of the Artist that tend to feel enlivened with an arresting strangeness. There is the peripherally entertaining notion of provocative body horror shadowing us while we follow a filmmaker creating his latest project, simultaneously losing his grip on reality. But more often than not, the film feels like a thriller version of Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery. Barraud’s French language title, Le Dos Rouge (basically The Red Back) was perhaps too literal of a title, and the allusion to Joyce’s classic text (though this is really more ‘as a middle aged man’) gives it a certain extra textual density since Joyce’s novel is an allusion to Daedalus, the man responsible for constructing the Labyrinth which entombed the deadly Minotaur in Greek Mythology.
Bertrand (Bertrand Bonello) is a filmmaker