Indican Pictures announced this past week that French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello, who has been nominated on three separate occasions for the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme d'Or — including for last year’s critically acclaimed Saint Laurent —will see his cinematic assault on the senses, On War, released on DVD this coming Dec. 15.
Our protagonist for this strange adventure is a wide-eyed nebbish and would-be filmmaker named Bertrand — an interesting choice of name and perhaps based on Bonello’s own experiences or musings??? — who is played by none other than Mathieu Amalric (Munich, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Quantum of Solace, etc.).
A lonely man, perhaps without close friends, we find Bertrand contemplating what it might be like to lay down in an open casket (he’s researching his latest film project) — what’s the view like from there? How might it feel? So sure enough he climbs in, lays down and WHOMP!, the coffin slams shut!
Trapped overnight he snaps. He is rescued the next morning, but is clearly changed emotionally. Although, as things play out, there is the possibility that he is — and this is where it gets tricky — trapped in the coffin and imagining all that subsequently transpires.
Nevertheless, Bertrand survives the night, is released from his terrifying prison and soon finds himself guided by a stranger to a remote mansion in the country, where he meets his own “Greek chorus.” They dance, they perform skits, sex is to be had, death happens and the women whom Bertrand meets are both strange and beautiful.
Included in the mix is the seemingly asexual — and demanding — Uma (Asia Argento — Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome, Land of the Dead, etc.), a goddess of sorts, who tantalizes the estate’s inhabitants with her avant-garde musical compositions.
Bertrand soon finds a friend in Rachel (Elina Löwensohn) and is stalked — with seduction in mind — by the alluring Marie (played by Léa Seydoux — currently starring as Bond Girl Dr. Madeleine Swann in Spectre, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, etc.). If Bertrand could make sense of his new found world, he would enjoy Rachel’s company and let Marie have her way with him — she, after all, Léa Seydoux!!!
On War is presented in French with English subtitles.