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For those of you whose interests lean towards the prurient, I suggest you read a no-holds-barred description of the film on the internet. What ensues is a moving and thought-provoking journey through the dark and gritty themes of grief and guilt.
For those of a more delicate disposition, the following will suffice. There are moments of extreme tenderness interspersed with unfathomable fantasy: others of wanton sexual abandon that border on, then invade, the boundaries of what most would consider decency.
A man at the next table darts an anxious glance, clearly wondering if he’s become an extra in a horror movie. ‘I was doing acrobatics with the knife and in the final scene I had to press it to my chest, fall face down on it and pretend to kill myself.
To the right of his heart is an inch-long raised, white scar.
We have been talking of the perils of action movies and Dafoe is learning the art of the anecdote. If you keep on taking yourself out of the role you play, you lose the thread of the character,’ he explains.
‘But I can’t worry about moral outrage.’ It isn’t his concern then? Want people to like it – though at the preview I attended in Cannes, the one without the media, it was received with rapture.
But I can only say if you are morally outraged then this movie is not for you.
Dafoe and Gainsbourg – a psychiatrist and his wife – are grieving over the death of their only son who, in an artfully shot opening scene, falls from a window while they are engaged in the film’s first of many unflinching sex scenes. Dafoe rails at her therapy and medication and insists upon treating her himself. Mediawatch-UK has denounced it as ‘shocking’ and critics denounced it as ‘an abomination’ and ‘sadistically violent’. That this is ‘art-house’, that somehow such scenes are necessary for its integrity or some such. ‘Yes, of course the criticism bothers me,’ he says impatiently.