Antonio Campos’ directorial follow-up to his critically lauded picture Afterschool delves deep inside the mind of the sociopathic Simon (a haunting Brady Corbet), cast adrift in Paris, ostensibly to get over the breakup of a long-term relationship.
Campos’ voyeuristic direction, replete with endless over the shoulder shots, lends proceedings an unsettling tone, forcing his audience into the role of reluctant observer. This is Simon’s perspective, his distorted eye view of his anonymous, calculating existence.
Campos teases, never revealing too much about Simon’s motives or decision-making process. It is clear Simon is trying to move on from his fractured relationship, but his insistence on continually calling his ex and stalking the backstreets for girls suggests he’s irrational and unpredictable.
Initially finding solace in the arms of beautiful prostitute Victoria (an impressive Mati Diop), his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, deluding himself that she is the answer to his problems and manipulating the situation to his obvious advantage.
Corbet lends Simon an unerring air, full of internal conflict and mystery. His Simon is at once vulnerable and dangerous, but ultimately he’s afraid, alone and desperate to belong. He’s the epitome of a lost soul; his intensely sexual relationship with Victoria an allusion to his recklessness and disregard for himself or anyone else.
He revels in the anonymity that a strange city affords, seduced and wrapped up in excess in all its forms, a feeling so perfectly captured by Campos’ urgent and raw direction and Joe Anderson’s sumptuous cinematography.
Everything is transient and maximum. A club scene, which plays out to the throbbing tones of LCD Soundsystem’s Dance Yrself Clean, has Simon indulging in the moment, forgetting Victoria and in an instant falling for another stunning girl Marianne (Constance Rousseau), always taking whatever he can and never giving anything back until the lies run out and he ultimately disintegrates.
It all makes for a discomfiting experience, fuelled by Simon’s resoundingly flawed and utterly deceitful character. Yet Simon Killer’s gritty aesthetic and delectable electro score ensures that it lingers uncomfortably long in the memory.
(originally featured at New Empress on 09/04/13)