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A secretary steals her boss' car to go joyriding. She visits a seaside town she swears she's never been to, but everyone knows her name. And when a body turns up in the trunk of the car, she is the lead suspect in a murder she knows nothing about. Is she going crazy? Written by
This is not a movie I would recommend to EVERYONE, but a certain kind of viewer would definitely enjoy it immensely, mostly those that are already familiar with the colorful, psychological (and very Freudian) mystery-thrillers popular in Continental Europe in the 1960's and early 70's--movies like "The Frightened Woman", "Girl on a Motorcycle", "La Piscine", "All the Colors of Darkness", "Footprints on the Moon" and even UK/American films like "Repulsion" or "Psycho" fit in here a little. These films all are based on the old-fashioned idea of women as hysterical, mentally unstable creatures who are both easily manipulated by others and never too far from a complete psychotic break. Most of these films are regarded somewhat ironically today by their fans (like myself), but, of course, the irony in this movie is completely intentional, just like the nostalgia factor. The nostalgia meanwhile will no doubt appeal not just to fans of this long ago genre, but also to people who enjoyed other recent Euro films that pay homage to this era like the "OSS 117" films and the romantic French comedy "Populaire" (also a tale about tres sexy French secretary in pre-woman's lib days).
I won't rehash the plot, but this is a fairly effective thriller that really keeps the audience guessing about whether the protagonist is hysterically crazy or is being manipulated by others. Like the original films, it has a strong visual style, also very reminiscent of the recent French giallo homage "Amer", but not quite as over-the-top in its non-linearity and hallucinatory visuals. The lead Freya Mavor is a very strong asset. She's not necessarily believable as a mousy secretary at the beginning, because even in her more "repressed" guise she's sexy as all hell. But the same can be said of all the femmes that originally played these beautiful head-case roles--Catherine Deneuve, Edwige Fenech, Barbara Bouchet--or the modern-day actress Deborah Francoise, who played the "shy", sexed-up secretary in "Populaire".
The rest of the cast is mostly male and suitably either creepy and sinister or charming and sinister. Most notable is who plays the protagonist's handsome boss at the "Mad Men"-type ad agency where she works . His younger wife, who was a former colleague of the protagonist before she married the boss, meanwhile is played by Staci Martin from "Nymphomaniac". The only thing this movie is missing frankly is a gratuitous lesbian scene between them (which wouldn't have been gratuitous at all since these movies are all ABOUT style over substance). I doubt anyone will be too disappointed though because Mavor herself is certainly sexy enough for one movie and spends most of the film modeling various abbreviated fashions of the day or appearing in various stages of undress (and in one very hot sex scene).
Of course, there are many people who are perfectly fine with the fact that they don't make films like this anymore (even in France). But nevertheless as an homage to very different era, and a very different kind of filmmaking, this is certainly a worthwhile effort
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