Antonio Campos’s insidious thriller is a study of a particularly pathetic and unsettling character. Simon is a recently graduated American in Paris, retreating from a breakup with his girlfriend of five years. Staying in the apartment of a family friend, Simon spends the days in the street, listless and roaming. When cigarettes and self-pity prove insufficient company, he finds himself with a young prostitute named Victoria, who after several visits he befriends and moves in with. As needy financially as he is emotionally, and showing no sign of being accustomed to the concept of consequences, Simon proposes that Victoria begin blackmailing her clients, and, out of greed or desperation or lack of will, she acquiesces. The thing that’s disgusting about Simon is his reliance on others, not simply because it’s juvenile, but because it’s born out of a sense of blind entitlement. The thing that’s terrifying about him is his stupidity, because it makes him an unpredictable and destructive force. His actions are sharp, and he flashes the intensity of something feral, but his motivations are opaque and seem unknowable. Simon isn’t a killer, but it’s hard to tell what he is as he whimpers on the phone to his mother. Maybe a child? recommended

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