In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_jimi_all_is_by_my_side

Jimi: All Is by My Side

What’s fascinating about “Jimi: All Is By My Side” is not only its decision to show us this particular chapter in Hendrix’s life, but also…

Thumb_boxtrolls_ver13

The Boxtrolls

"The Boxtrolls" is a beautiful example of the potential in LAIKA's stop-motion approach, and the images onscreen are tactile and layered. But, as always, it's…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

The Hunger

The Hunger Movie Review
  |  

"The Hunger" is an agonizingly bad vampire movie, circling around an exquisitely effective sex scene. Sorry, but that's the way it is, and your reporter has to be honest. The seduction scene involves Catherine Deneuve, as an age-old vampire, and Susan Sarandon, as her latest victim. There was a great deal of controversy while the movie was being made (all sorts of rumors about closed sets, etc.), but the scene as it now appears isn't raunchy or too explicit -- just sort of dreamily erotic.

I mention the scene so prominently because it's one of the few scenes that really work in "The Hunger," a movie that has been so ruthlessly overproduced that it's all flash and style and no story. Well, there's probably a story moping about somewhere within all the set decoration. It seems to involve Deneuve as a vampire of vaguely Egyptian origins, whose latest partner (David Bowie) is giving out on her after three or four centuries.

After an initial orgy of fancy camerawork, the movie settles down into the story of Bowie's final days. He has that disease, where you age suddenly. He needs a lot of blood to keep going. He appeals to a medical researcher (Sarandon) for help, but she brushes him off, and by the time she realizes he's serious, he looks like Methuselah. Then Sarandon visits the lavish town house where Deneuve and Bowie lived, and that's where a glass of sherry leads to the seduction scene.

Now I've got to be honest about this scene. Part of its interest lies in the fact that Catherine Deneuve herself and Susan Sarandon herself are acting in the scene. That gives it a level of reality that would be lacking in a porno film, even a much more explicit one. Because we know that famous actresses don't usually agree to appear in scenes such as this, we're aware at the chance they're, taking -- and the documentary reality of the scene gives it an effectiveness all its own.

Deneuve, of course, has made a career out of the contrast between her cool, perfect beauty and the strange, erotic predicaments her characters get involved in. (Remember "Belle de Jour"?) Sarandon's scene by the window in "Atlantic City," bathing herself with lemons, created great sultriness. But "The Hunger" approaches its big scene on an altogether different level, with understatement, awkward little pauses in conversation and a canny awareness of our own curiosity about whether Deneuve and Sarandon really will go ahead with this scene, or whether the director will cut away to the usual curtains blowing in the wind.

Well, he doesn't but it's about the only time in the whole movie there aren't curtains blowing in the wind. This movie has so much would-be elegance and visual class that it never quite happens as a dramatic event. There's so much crosscutting, so many memories, so many apparent flashbacks, that the real drama is lost -- the drama of a living human being seduced into vampirism.

In Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyre," we felt some of the blood-scented lure of eternal death-in-life. Here it's just -- how would an ad put it? -- "Catherine Deneuve for Dracula."

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Why my video essay about "All that Jazz" is not on the Criterion blu-ray

Bob Fosse's masterpiece "All That Jazz" jumps back and forth through the past and the present, and through memory and...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus