She’s Lost Control

Brooke Bloom in SHE'S LOST CONTROL

She’s Lost Control is writer/director Anja Marquardt’s debut feature film, and in it she follows the life of Ronah (Brooke Bloom), a young woman who is working towards a Master’s degree in behavioural psychology, and also serving as an intimacy surrogate for men with issues.

Her life consists of a series of routines that fill the space around her work: meetings with her advisor Dr. Cassidy (Dennis Boutsikaris), some exercise, frequent injections, and some familial drama that she always places at the very background of her life. When she takes on a new client named Johnny (Marc Menchaca), Ronah’s life begins to come apart. Perhaps because of his volatile nature, but also perhaps because she finds herself becoming attracted to him.

I had never heard of an intimacy surrogate before and from watching the movie I didn’t feel like I saw anything more than a flirtation with the idea. To me it looked like the sole method of drawing a person out of his shell was by enforcing boundaries. This is a very specific kind of film and I have to say it is not the type of film I would watch under normal circumstances. It is difficult to feel good about life, or even motion pictures after watching a film like this.

I wonder whether it was the filmmaker’s intention to make a movie about an intimacy surrogate feel so… distancing because I’ve felt greater empathy for cartoonish warlords in mainstream movies than I did for Ronah and her life choices.

L’homme qu’on aimait trop

Adèle Haenel in FRENCH RIVIERA

Set in Nice in 1976, this is the story of three people – Renée Le Roux (Catherine Deneuve), owner of the casino Palais de la Méditerranée, Agnès Le Roux (Adèle Haenel), daughter of Renée and shareholder in the casino, and Maurice Agnelet (Guillaume Canet), Renée’s lawyer and consultant with bigger ambitions. The story begins with Agnès returning from Africa after her divorce from her husband. She wants to be independent from her mother and she sets up her own store and lives in her own apartment. All she wants is her money from her share in the casino. Renée is battling trouble at the casino because of several reasons including the fact that a gangster called Fratoni is buying up casinos along the coast and has his eye on hers. Maurice is the connection between all these characters. Agnès promptly falls in love with him – why wouldn’t she, him being all charming and handsome and all that – despite the warnings of her mother and one of Maurice’s many mistresses.

After a slow-burn in what seems like emotional drama territory, the film adds an element of murder and mystery which comes too late to make things exciting, in my opinion. One of the key problems is that there is no clarity about whose story this is. Agnès, Maurice and Renée all conduct what feels like a series of repetitive moves – Agnès talks about her inheritance, putters around her store, sleeps with Maurice and swims in the sea; Maurice stands by as Agnès swims in the sea, sleeps with Agnès, has phone conversations that he records, and one other thing that I don’t want to say because it’s spoilery; Renée stands around at the casino, goes into her office, is summoned by people into meetings, and warns her daughter about Maurice. Only in the murder/mystery section of the film do people start doing other things. This means that for the most part you’re watching what feels like a loop set against a pretty backdrop of the South of France. Not good for excitement levels.

The last section feels rushed and like time has suddenly been compacted. Based on a true story, the film could have been high on suspense, atmosphere, and mystery. It is none of these. Everything just feels like the backdrop against which people move around. It’s a strange thing to say but that is really all that I experienced. So I took the time to listen to the dialogue and practice my French listening comprehension. A pity, really.