Finished it on my third attempt.
Antoine d’Agata paints, in fine strokes, an arresting but unbearably bleak landscape of prostitution, drug abuse, and degeneration, spanning several years and places. d’Agata’s framing of most of his subjects reminded me a lot of Costa’s later films – they’re shrouded in darkness, made visible to us by isolated lights reflecting from their bruised, tired, drug-addicted bodies, highlighting their social alienation and disconnect from the material world around them. Despite the spatial and temporal isolation of his subjects from each other, their experiences are shown to have a certain universality, which in turn renders the above-mentioned physical and intangible distinctions between them meaningless.
I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of the film and I’m gonna have to make peace with that knowledge – it’s too dense to unpack in a single viewing and too horrific for me to put myself through its nightmarish hellscape again.