[No narrative spoilers, only aesthetic ones]. Many years ago the Village Voice ran a wonderful piece asking various directors to choose their all-time favorite movie endings. Olivier Assayas, with excellent taste, chose the finale of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. For me one of the all-time perfect endings is that of Assayas’s own Irma Vep where the Brakhagian rushes of Jean-Pierre Leaud’s Feuillade remake cut to black just as Assayas’ name comes up and Luna’s “Bonnie and Clyde” kicks in. That for me is movie heaven.
Assayas’s Boarding Gate, released earlier this year, is a creaky contraption. Less meta than the putatively similar Demonlover, the first half, with its long expository conversations between ex-lovers Asia Argento and Michael Madsen, feels like an off-Broadway two-hander. And then the film decamps from Paris to Hong Kong and shifts into full-on B movie mode. It’s redeemed by two great moments: Argento exploding through a door, gun aloft, only to find herself in a crowded restaurant where no-one blinks an eye; and a scene in a karaoke bar woozy with jet-lag. And then there’s the ending, which plays on Irma Vep’s coup-de-theatre: backing onto an escalator, Asia recedes to a gorgeous blur as the opening bars of, of all things, Sparks’ “No. 1 Song in Heaven” play, and, as in Irma, the song kicks in right as Assayas’s name hits the screen. It’s an old trick but it’s a good one and it was enough to make me rethink most of what came before.