Acapulco Rock

Like so many contemporary French filmmakers, Laurent Tuel presents marginalized characters trapped in a violent and morally bankrupt Paris. Sandrine (Margot Abascal), a moody waif, and Gerald (Antoine Chappey), her brother?s soft-spoken ex-boyfriend, service the privileged through phone sex and prostitution, but beneath Tuel?s psychological observation and social critique beats the heart of a sordid melodrama involving voyeurism, kinky sex, jealous rage, and redemptive vengeance. Tuel seems more interested in extreme, inexplicable behavior and the mechanics of manipulation than in the plot, which is laden with implausibilities and convenient cop-outs. This 1996 film sometimes generates a nocturnal rhythm that neatly matches Sandrine and Gerald?s numbed mental state, yet visually it?s all over the place, tossing together jittery camera movements, off-center Bressonian minimalism, and the more stately, elaborate compositions of Chabrol. Tuel wants to capture the characters? struggle for identity, but he needs to establish his own personal style.

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