TIFF Journal: ‘Alleluia’

'Alleluia'

Movie Rating:

3.5

Proving once again that few things are creepier than love, ‘Alleluia’ is a horrible date movie for anyone in a functional relationship. Or maybe it’s the perfect movie, pushing romantic obsession to a psychotic extreme in a way that’s come to be expected for its delightfully perverse director.

French extremist filmmaker Fabrice Du Welz (‘Calivaire’, ‘Vinyan’) has long been fascinated with perverse relationship studies that gradually descend into horror. It only makes sense that he would eventually want to tackle the story of the Lonely Hearts Killers who inspired the cult film ‘The Honeymoon Killers’. The original true story involved a couple who met through newspaper want ads. Obviously, that’s not going to fly anymore, so Du Welz has his lonely housewife (Lola Duenas) meet the charmingly creepy Laurent Lucas through online dating. One night of bliss seems perfect until Duenas learns that Lucas regularly seduces middle aged women the same way purely to steal money from them. Rather than be disgusted, Deuenas only falls deeper for Lucas and encourages him to continue his ways with the new added twist that Dueenas will murder his victims out of jealousy once he’s got the money.

This is a twisted tale, to say the least – one perfectly suited to Du Welz’s unique skill set as a filmmaker. He makes the audience fall for these pathetic outsiders and somehow empathize with them throughout, even as the explosions of violence pile up in increasingly disturbing ways. You get the impression that Du Welz loves these characters and draws remarkable, pained performances from his actors to make you care for them too. The style of the film is intoxicating, somehow observational and subjective at the same time and prone to wildly unpredictable flourishes, such as one unexpected sing-song with a gruesome crescendo.

It’s probably Du Welz’s weakest effort to date, purely because pulling from an established story gives the movie a slight familiarity that his previous efforts lacked. That’s a very minor criticism, and really the worst that can be said about this disgustingly twisted love story that is somehow sensual, terrifying, naturalistic and theatrically stylized. It may be the perfect date film for you and your favorite sick puppy.

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