(director/writer: Coralie Fargeat; cinematographer: Benjamin Kracun; editors: Jerome Eltabet, Coralie Fargeat, Valentin Feron; music: Raffertie; cast: Demi Moore (Elizabeth Sparkle), Dennis Quaid (Harvey), Margaret Qualley (Sue), Hugo Diego Garcia (Diego), Joseph Balderama (Craig Silver), Oscar Lesage (Troy), Gore Abrams (Oliver), Olivier Raynal (Alan), Tom Morton (The Doctor), Daniel Knight (The casting director), Matthew Geczy (Bob Haswell), Tiffany Hofstetter (The Stylist); Runtime: 140; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Coralie Fargeat; Universal Pictures; 2024-UK/USA/France)

“A perceptive and gruesome horror pic on how we see ourselves.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The French director and writer Coralie Fargeat deliciously films a perceptive and gruesome horror pic on how we see ourselves. It’s a female agenda driven surreal film-the goriest film at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, but also one of the smarter ones.

It wickedly tells us a feminist tale about the aging, has-been, former big name Hollywood star Elizabeth Sparkle (Demi Moore), now in her fifties, living in an LA apartment, who uncovers an experimental mystery substance through a doctor and injects herself with it. It provides her with a younger duplicate version of herself that emerges from her back, called Sue (Margaret Qualley). They share the same body with each other, but they alternate being there on different weeks.

The young and attractive Sue gains fame directing a risque new show until things start unraveling, bringing about unforeseen consequences. By using sci-fi and body horror tropes, it thereby mocks Hollywood’s ongoing obsession with youth and shows the pressure it puts on its actresses to remain young if they want to remain stars.

The film is uplifted by the powerful and quirky performances by Demi and Qualley, as it takes on the serious social issues of aging, identity, sexism and beauty.

The plot goes over-the-top when the popular Jane Fonda-like morning fitness show, Sparkle Your Life, has the show’s lecherous producer  Harvey  (Dennis Quaid)  say he intends to replace the has-been actress with someone “young” and “hot.”

The climactic sequence is set during the taping of Harvey’s network New Year’s Eve special. Sue has been chosen to host, and what happens brings out some truly deformed fleshy monsters and deformed spirits.

Those not too squeamish to take in all the bloody images will be treated to a final act that strongly suggests we can never escape from ourselves.

 It played at the Cannes Film Festival.


REVIEWED ON 5/29/2024  GRADE: A-