Vincent Prince’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Yes. Your punishment, my poor Angèle, is to be you. To have to live with yourself."
Another entry in the great pantheon of films about making films, but one that manages to have no sense of self-awareness for the absurdity it proffers to its audience, instead hoping its self-seriousness in the face of the absurd can lend it profundity.
The allegory here is paper thin, supported by a pretty physically arresting performance by Lavant, but there's not much to grab onto here. A film about the demands of creativity in the face of automation and CGI IP machines revving up, it wonders if the pain and alienation taken on to create great art will be rendered obsolete, useless in a future context. Much like the stuttering frames of the strong man, its impact is lost on the audience.
Its imagery is its undoing, Carax constantly hoping some outlandish frame can wow the audience into thinking him a genius. There's moments baiting the encroaching Islamic influence in Europe, echoing the same reactionary worries that captivated Houellebecq in the same sense.
However, there is one image that Carax finds himself even more fascinated by: Mary holding Jesus after being removed from the cross. Multiple times, women hold Oscar by the head, rest him in their lap, as he destroys themselves as they look on. Unfortunately, unlike Jesus, this is not a martyrdom, but rather a casualty of cinematic autoerotic asphyxiation.