“Its like a drawing that has a second one hidden within it”
Don’t Look Back is the second film from writer/director Marina de Van. Her debut feature In My Skin really impressed me & I will admit I had a few doubts that Don’t Look Back would match In My Skin‘s high standards. I needn’t have worried, Don’t Look Back is a stunning movie & Miss de Van is rapidly becoming one of my favourite moviemakers.
Jeanne (Sophie Marceau) is a successful non fiction writer, happily married with two children. Despite her success she yearns to write fiction & is working on a semi autobiographical story of childhood, which is proving difficult since she has no memories of her childhood. Slowly at first she begins to notice small changes around her house. Layouts change, as does the decor. Jeanne becomes increasingly worried when she starts to see changes not only in the appearance of her husband & children but also in her own reflection in the mirror. These changes become stronger, her hair changes colour, one eye changes shape. She confides in her husband & later as they are having sex she looks up & her husband no longer looks like she perceives him to be. Frantic & scared Jeanne goes to see her mother, who after a brief conversation changes appearance too. By now Jeanne’s reflection in the mirror is no longer what Jeanne believes she looks like, instead she sees a completely different looking woman (Monica Bellucci). Jeanne looks at some old photos & sees a photo of her as a young girl with her mother & another woman taken in Italy. The photo triggers something in Jeanne & she travels to Italy in search of some answers.
Don’t Look Back is, to put it simply a wonderfully crafted, complex psychological horror movie. Marina de Van takes her time establishing characters & slowly draws you (the audience) in, keeping you gripped until the credits roll. If it wasn’t for some minor quibbles (more on those later) this movie would have made my Hall Of Fame. In Sophie Marceau & Monica Bellucci, de Van had two incredibly talented actresses who are both on top of their game in this movie. They both put in brilliant performances, effortlessly carrying their halves of the movie. The rest of the cast is good too. The film looks amazing, the cinematography is first-rate & the CGI used to morph Sophie Marceau into Monica Bellucci is subtle yet effectively done (even the hybrid Marceau/Bellucci), meaning for once you don’t get taken out of the movie by being impressed with obvious CGI. Don’t Look Back like its predecessor In my Skin does contain elements of body horror. It seems to be a recurring theme with de Van & while nowhere near as graphic & disturbing there are some strange elements of deformation in the movie. As i mentioned earlier I do have some minor quibbles (one majorish one if I am totally honest) The movies score is completely underwhelming, it just didn’t add anything to the atmosphere of the film. At the beginning of the movie Jeanne notices her family making strange hand gestures & movements. These scenes are incredibly creepy yet no explanation is ever given for them. Maybe de Van put them in just to unsettle the audience but that seems a cheap trick for such a talented writer. My last quibble & the most major one I cannot reveal here as it is a major plot spoiler to do with Jeanne’s husband.
If you’re looking for an intelligent slow burning horror movie, look no further than this. A wonderful movie from an obvioulsy talented director. I, for one am looking forward to seeing what Marina de Van does next. Until then Don’t Look Back comes highly recommended.