Gaspar Noé’s “Vortex”, which won the Golden Tulip Award in the International Competition category of the 41st Istanbul Film Festival, became one of the most talked about films of the festival. The French director’s participation in the “Vortex” screenings as a guest of the festival attracted at least as much attention as his film.
“All that we see or seem. Is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allan Poe
This year, the 41st Istanbul Film Festival, which toured the main movie theaters of the city with the slogan “41 years of dream”, ended on April 19. (Rexx Cinema, whose absence was felt during the festival held in iconic movie theaters of the city such as Atlas 1948 and Beyoğlu Cinema, should also be commemorated.) French director Gaspar Noé, who attended the “Vortex” screening in Atlas 1948, left his mark on the last day of the festival. Even though the tickets of the movie were sold out, movie lovers who learned that Noé would attend the screening formed a long ticket queue in front of Atlas Cinema.
Greeted the audience before the screening of the movie, Noé answered the questions after the screening. Saying that the producers asked him if he could shoot a movie with a few actors during the pandemic, Noé also talked about how “Vortex” came about. Mentioning that while filming the film, Jean Eustache thought a lot about the movie “Le Maman et la Putain”, also starring Françoise Lebrun, the director explained that all actors, except the child actor, made improvisations. Stating that he knew Yılmaz Güney from Turkish cinema upon the questions received during the interview, Noé also expressed that he was inspired by Güney’s method of working with child actors in the scenes he shot with child actors. In the scene where the family is sitting at the table, he conveyed the footage of the moment when the little actor slams their toy cars together and terrorizes the environment: “I told him that if he pulls the kid over and hits the cars hard enough to break each other, I’ll get the toy engine he wants. The child was so tense that Françoise suddenly began to cry. Then Dario took Françoise’s hand and said, ‘How are you, Françoise?’ But of course, we cut the part that Françoise said from the movie. While all this was going on, I burst into tears in the back, because the scene was exactly what I wanted. All directors are manipulators and we should not be ashamed of that.”
“To all those whose brains will decompose before their hearts…”
“Vortex”, in which Gaspar Noé tells the story of an elderly couple living in Paris, opens with the scene where the couple drinks wine on the balcony. Then, focusing on the couple’s beds while they were sleeping together, the camera slowly divides the screen into two with a black barrier from the head of the bed. Thus, we watch the mother (Françoise Lebrun), who has dementia, and her father (Dairo Argento), who, despite having a heart attack two years ago, is healthier than her, in separate frames of a split screen throughout the movie. When the mother lost consciousness due to dementia, the sharpness of the disagreements between the couple is reinforced by the split screen. The split-screen technique not only conveys the separation between the couple, but also the desperation of the son in the face of the old age of his parents, with the same sharp line.
We see the father character played by Dario preparing a book about movies and dreams, while the father is trying to cope with the forgetfulness and unconsciousness of his wife, who has dementia. Noé brings to the screen the story of an elderly couple, one of whom has dementia, in a simple narrative. Although the movie opens with a lyrical scene where wine glasses are clinked, in the continuation we watch not the old age of a loving couple, but the alienation of two people who have spent a lifetime together.
The split screen captures not only the couple, but also their son and grandchild Kiki. In fact, we are following a story we all know: An adult son trying to cope with the problems of his parents’ old age. The drug addiction of Stéphane, played by Alex Lutz who has a former psychiatrist mother and drug addiction shows the family’s close relationship with drugs for years, in addition to the forgetfulness brought about by dementia, opens the door to the scenes in the film where the consciousness becomes blurred.
“Vortex” opened by Noé dedicating “to all whose minds will rot before their hearts”; he handles the concepts of old age, death and dreams with a simple flow that is not striking, contrary to the director’s usual style. “Vortex”, progressing in a gentle flow where nothing happens all of a sudden, questions whether everything we can see and see is ultimately just a dream.