Inexorable

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Inexorable
"It's not the cliches that are its main problem, although the setting and set-up are straight down the line." | Photo: Kris Dewitte

Anyone hankering for the heady days of the late Eighties and early Nineties when erotic thrillers like Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle were in their pomp, might get some light if, ultimately, less than satisfying kicks from this take on the genre from Belgian director Fabrice du Welz.

It's not the cliches that are its main problem, although the setting and set-up are straight down the line. Writer Marcel (Benoit Poelvoorde) - whose debut novel Inexorable was a huge success but who has struggled to match it since - has just moved into an enormous chateau with his moneyed wife and publisher Jeanne (Melanie Doutey), young daughter Lucie (Janaina Halloy Fokan) and newly rescued dog Ulysses. The chateau, you will be unsurprised to hear, has one of those staircases directors love to twirl cameras above, while the writer has a locked drawer with letters in and the electrics keep blowing a fuse.

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The nervy young woman, Gloria (Alba Gaia Bellugi), who has just arrived at a hotel in the nearby village is soon walking Ulysses, who has gone on his own unauthorised mini-odyssey, up the drive and before you can say, cuckoo in the nest, she's their live-in nanny, starting to cause trouble for the hired help and taking an overly bright shine to Marcel.

The thing with plots like this, especially ones with this many familiar elements, is that they can't boil without insufficient heat and for the first hour Welz shows little interest in turning up the gas before putting a full blast furnace under final third - complete with red-soaked glow. The cast are more than capable and, before that point, do their best to strike a light under their characters, they're hampered by a basic lack of depth. Marcel and Jeanne's relationship seems comfortable and normal to begin with, so suddenly having them have trouble in the bedroom followed by an odd bit of sexual roleplay doesn't quite gel. Bellugi deserves a lot of credit for making Gloria as interesting as she is in her opaqueness. The film also hints at its most psychologically interesting idea here, showing how every time Gloria launches an assault on the family she also does deep physical harm to herself but the trio of writers, including the director, have little interest in what makes her tick, sketching in a backstory as too much of an afterthought for it to have any real impact.

The action in general arrives too late, with one scene bearing a particularly unfortunate resemblance to one in Little Miss Sunshine, although that certainly adds to the oddness. Cinematographer Manuel Dacosse always gives his films, including The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears and Evolution a real kick of sinuous style but genre films like this need more substance than this to truly satisfy the rules of the game.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2021
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Trouble lies ahead for a family who have just moved into a chateau, after they hire a young woman as a nanny on impulse.

Director: Fabrice du Welz

Writer: Joséphine Darcy Hopkins, Aurélien Molas, Fabrice du Welz

Starring: Alba Gaïa Bellugi, Jackie Berroyer, Mélanie Doutey, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Salée, Anaël Snoek, Alba Gaïa Bellugi, Jackie Berroyer, Mélanie Doutey, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Salée, Anaël Snoek

Year: 2021

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Belgium, France

Festivals:

Deauville 2021

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