Boarding Gate Movie Review

Asia Argento plays a former prostitute cum corporate assassin who decides to murder her old flame in Olivier Assayas' wasteful Boarding Gate, and that's just about all I can say about the movie. Michael Madsen plays a perverse bigwig too, but he's done that before; Assayas shows an interest in Chinese technology, but he's also done that before, and with more impressive results. Despite its intentions, the only thing even worth speaking about here is Ms. Argento, fruit of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento's loins.

Sandra (Argento) spends the first push of this dismal film talking background with Miles (Madsen). and even in these stagy environs, Argento's unkempt sleaze permeates the entire scene. Miles speaks about his new wife and kids but can't help but fall for Sandra, with her hand placed playfully between her thighs, asking him to say the word "slave" over and over. Later, she talks about how an encounter with her ex-flame put her off of Lebanese cuisine, not long before she strips down to black panties and strangles Miles with his belt while giving him a handjob. Then she shoots him full of bullets.

Things get absolutely silly after this, but basically everyone wants Sandra dead, including her current flame Lester (Carl Ng) and his wife Sue (Kelly Lin). There's also some blonde crime boss, played by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, who leads a gang of Asian hoods but later makes plans for Sandra to hide out in Shanghai. But as the convolutions become more earnest, Argento is given nothing to do but run around and brandish a gun every once in awhile (to look dangerous, I suppose). If anything, it's the other way around: Argento makes the gun look dangerous.

Boarding Gate is a big, hot mess of a movie without a clue of what's going on in its echo-chamber of a head. The action is loose and unformulated, the thrills lack tension, and its final stab at circular narrative is an act of buffoonery. Assayas, far from the strange machinations of Clean and demonlover, directs the first half with an even hand but loses all intelligibility once Miles' blood spreads out on the hardwood floor; what might have been an acceptable battle of wits becomes a fussy piece of techno-thrill.

Fortunately, there's always Argento to be entranced by, and even when she's sipping, or rather chugging, a glass of expensive whiskey, she holds the film under her thumb. The first of four films in which she will appear this year, Boarding Gate is without question the most profoundly ridiculous, although papa Argento's upcoming The Mother of Tears isn't out of the running. Much more fascinating is her show-stopping dog-make-out scene in Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales and her revelatory performance as the titular seductress in Catherine Breillat's exceptional The Last Mistress. In Assayas' hands, however, she is lost: Her carnivorous stare matched only by hollow eyes, her unwavering eroticism given nothing to truly conquer, her intoxicating profanity restrained when it begs for release.

Sorry ma'am, you can't board the plane like that.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Francois Margolin


Boarding Gate Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2008


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