Lux Æterna (2015)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Lux Æterna may well be director Gaspar Noé’s most accessible film so far, but it still demands much of its viewers, including — warning to those prone to seizures — a long and intense strobe light sequence, the use of split screen technique that heightens the story’s chaos, and the barrage of stress it puts on its two lead characters. The film also leads to a great deal of reflection on how women are treated in the film industry.

Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg portray fictional versions of themselves, with Dalle directing a film about witches and Gainsbourg starring in the project. These two top-notch French actors are terrific here, and their first appearance together in Lux Æterna sees the pair reflecting on past roles and experiences on film sets, including some jarring revelations. As the fictitious film’s producer becomes nervous about Dalle directing, he begins undermining her and bringing in crew members to override her, leading to her becoming increasingly agitated and unhinged. Meanwhile, no one on the set seems to care that Gainsbourg is also becoming steadily more upset after receiving some frightening news over the phone from her young daughter. This all leads to a hypnotic climax using the aforementioned strobe effects. 

Lux Æterna is part meta behind-the-scenes filmmaking peek, part horror movie, part social commentary film, part scathing indictment of the film industry, part meditation on art vs. commerce, and all Noé. It’s a discomfiting watch that is not for everyone, but it’s well worth giving a watch.  

Yellow Veil Pictures will release Gaspar Noé’s LUX ÆTERNA on digital platforms including Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and more from Friday, June 10th in North America, followed by a 2-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray available summer 2022. LUX ÆTERNA is currently available for digital preorder on Vimeo on Demand

You can see the trailer here.

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