Le Marquis de la Croix captures a pure essence of the Marquis DeSade's defiant, revolutionary writings. Its challenging subtexts worked subconscious magic to remind me both of a personal experience of death and the disturbingly innocent opening scene in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch where "innocent" children gleefully torture a scorpion.
Hesketh gives the reality of a single death more potent impact than a hundred slash and burn action film deaths shown in forget-'em quick video cuts, sudden, violent, and gone. Yes, prolonged violence in the form of torture causes death in Le Marquis de la Croix, but that death is shown to be defiantly slow in coming. It forces viewers to realize that, given the chance, Life makes Death work hard for its victory, the way I remember death coming to a friend at whose bedside I once waited.
Jac Avila's chilling performance as the Marquis makes clear the imprisoned aristocrat's clinical detachment as he scientifically records his observations of the young woman's suffering. But in contrast, Avila also drives home the intimate involvement of a torturer with his victim.
Mila Joya's Zinga is poignantly believable as the helpless victim whose initial hope that she can escape public execution by surviving the Marquis' private depredations slowly fades, forcing her to reluctantly accept that death alone awaits her, an end to all her hopes and dreams, an outcome not unlike that of the doomed protagonist at the end of DeSade's Justine.
Another nice touch is Hesketh's selection of background music, including the ironic choice of an historical chant-song voiced by revolutionary French peasant-citizens while they executed aristocrats—as the sadistic aristocrat in her film executes his peasant-victim.
But wait! There's more! Hesketh adds a wonderful and unexpected Twilight Zone ending that would make Rod Serling proud. In an IMDb review of Hesketh's film, Sirwiñakuy, I compared her direction to Hitchcock's, who famously appeared in cameos in his films. Hesketh does more than a mere cameo in Le Marquis de la Croix. Her performance in the framing sequences at the beginning, middle, and end makes dear Uncle Alfred's cameos pale by comparison and zaps viewers with a viewpoint revelation, casting the entire cinematic narration into an unexpected context.
Then, too, there is a commentary track by Hesketh and Avila that you can activate, containing fascinating, informative, and entertaining information.
I have no idea what Amy Hesketh is going to create next, but folks, if you've got any sense left at all, you'll fight me for first place in line to see!