Gaspar Noé returns with a personal, powerful and visionary take on aging, starring the legendary filmmaker Dario Argento in a rare on-screen performance. VORTEX premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival accompanied by only the following as its synopsis: “Life is a short party that will soon be forgotten.” VORTEX provides no party in the sense of the drug-fueled youth on display in Noé’s earlier films such as ENTER THE VOID and CLIMAX. Prompted in part by Noé’s own near-death experience in 2019, VORTEX’s split-screen depiction of an elderly couple on the decline in Paris’ outer arrondissements is a far more grounded experience, albeit one that’s firmly in the Noé wheelhouse of provocative experimentation.
“This is not just a whiplashing change of pace for the tearaway France-based director, who customarily crash-lands on Cannes during its bacchanalian middle weekend. In terms of scope, ambition and execution, it’s one of the finest pictures he’s made.” —Xan Brooks, The Guardian “The hushed closing reels are unusual in Noé’s oeuvre in that they generate straightforward empathy and emotion without falling back on gimmicks, trickery or shock tactics. It feels like a more mature Noé has arrived… Cinematographer Benoit Debie’s precision split-screen work will attract the most attention, but equal praise should go to Jean Rabasse’s production design. The couple’s rundown apartment — stuffed to the rafters with the material flotsam but also often emotionally significant treasures of two fully lived lives — offers a backdrop that’s more suggestive than any specific backstory could ever be.” —Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter