From the March 14, 2003 Chicago Reader. — J.R.
* (Has redeeming facet)
Directed and written by Gaspar Noe
With Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia, and Philippe Nahon
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Costa-Gavras
Written by Costa-Gavras and Jean-Claude Grumberg
With Ulrich Tukur, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Muhe, Michel Duchaussoy, and Fontana Ion Caramitru.
Why link an arty exploitation picture about rape, murder, and revenge with a sober adaptation of Rolf Hochhuth’s The Deputy, a 1960s German play about the failure of the Vatican to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust? One reason is to point out a critical difference between them. In Irreversible Gaspar Noe elects to show us everything — two faces being smashed to bloody messes, the heroine being raped and beaten for an agonizing ten minutes — while in Amen. (which played last week at the Music Box) Costa-Gavras shows his hero Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur), a newly commissioned SS lieutenant with a conscience, watching the gassing of Jews through a peephole with other officers but refuses to show us any part of what Gerstein sees.
The difference here concerns more than just etiquette. In the terms propounded by Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985), it concerns ethics.… Read more »