Mortem: Film Review

Mortem Eric Atlan - H 2013

Mortem Eric Atlan - H 2013

This exercise in arty pretentiousness smacks of too many viewings of European classic films.

A beautiful young woman has an intense encounter with her soul in Eric Atlan's metaphysical thriller.

You'll want  to amuse yourself during the many long tedious stretches of Eric Atlan’s Mortem by playing spot the references. You’ll start with the great European masters, such as Cocteau and Bunuel, before moving on to Ingmar Bergman and eventually David Lynch. Those less inclined to such cinematic musings will at least find compensation in the hot girl-on-girl action.

That the lovemaking is between a beautiful young woman and her soul—yes, you’ve read this correctly—is but one of the many loopy aspects of this metaphysical drama that would have mightily impressed college undergrads back in the late 1960’s.

It begins with a shot of a blonde woman riding a motorcycle, sans helmet, on a dark foggy night. By the time she stops at an inn seeking refuge, she’s accompanied by another motorcyclist, this one brunette. Both are greeted by a pair of female proprietresses exuding an air of mystery.

We soon come to learn that the women are Jena (Diana Rudychenko) and her spiritual doppelganger (Daria Panchenko), with whom she has apparently combative relationship. The tension only increases with the arrival of Jena’s former lover (Stany Coppet) who, in typical male fashion, is able to see Jena but not her soul.

Featuring a fateful game of cards, the outcome of which presumably means death (shades of The Seventh Seal), the fantastical encounter also includes the two women making love, which makes about as much sense as everything preceding it.

It all comes across as less spooky than silly, despite the beautiful black-and-white digital photography and the swelling musical score that adds a Gothic touch to the proceedings. Since both of the stunningly gorgeous female leads hail from the Ukraine, one mainly comes away wondering what is they put in the water over there to produce such magnificent creatures.

Opened April 26 (RSquared)

Cast: Diana Rudychenko, Daria Panchenko, Stany Coppet

Director/director of photography: Eric Atlan

Screenwriters: Marie-Claude Dazun, Eric Atlan

Producers/composers: Eric Atlan, Marc Bercovitz

Executive producer: Christine Leclabart

Not rated, 94 min.