TIFF 2021: ‘Inexorable’ Is a Shocking Erotic Thriller

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Fabrice Du Welz’s new thriller Inexorable uses a mix of eroticism and the “dangerous intruder” trope to create shock. It has some beats we’ve seen before, but its effective execution as well as a remarkable performance from Alba Gaia Bellugi, make this film a very gripping watch.

To prepare his next book, famous writer Marcel Bellmer (Benoît Poelvoorde), his wife Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey), his daughter Lucie (Janaina Halloy), and their gorgeous new dog Ulysse relocate into Jeanne’s family manor. The moving isn’t even finished when young Gloria (Bellugi) appears in their life having found Ulysse wandering around. After impressing the family with her dog training skills, Gloria starts to slowly integrate into their life.

The Bellmers aren’t exactly smart as they take in a woman who basically walks around holding a huge sign that says ‘Hello, I’m a psychopath.” Gloria is always silent, doesn’t seem to have a family, looks very uncomfortable when being touched, has a twisted look in her eyes, and quickly reveals that she has read all of Macel’s book. The family, blinded by privilege, takes her in regardless and doesn’t hesitate to believe in her word that the housekeeper is stealing money. After appearing with a swollen eye (that she inflicted on herself), she’s invited to live in the manor and become the new housekeeper. But keeping the house isn’t all she’s gonna do. Gloria notices Marcel and Jeanne are having relationship hiccups, so she quickly pounces on the opportunity to seduce the writer.

The first half of Inexorable works as a slow-burn erotic thriller pushed by the unsettling presence of Gloria, her astute methods to infiltrate the Bellmer family, and the sexual tension that develops between her and an increasingly troubled Marcel; Du Welz does waste the chance of using the eroticism nature of the plot to further engage the audience. Then, the pacing ramps up and it’s shock aftershock as the family, particularly Marcel, struggle for air in a hole they helped dig for themselves. Starting from a revelation about Gloria’s backstory, it’s a wild ride to the finish.

The script does a good job of not just victimizing the rich people of the story, but painting them as entitled, bratty, or cheating humans who have used fame and money to avoid the wrongdoing of their past. Gloria represents that past coming back to bite them; and although the screenplay does ask for some suspension of disbelief, the unwrapping of her chaos is easier thanks to the veil created by rich privilege.

Du Welz’s direction gives fresh air to the clichéd nature of the story. The huge house feels like the perfect fortress for Gloria to hide her lies; the beautiful green gardens are a direct contrast to the dark spaces that seem to be guarding the secrets of the writer inside the house. Vincent Cahay’s great score hits in the right moments to cause discomfort and tension.

Poelvoorde does a good job evolving from an entitled writer to an unhinged maniac driven by desperation; his performance tends to fall into the exaggerated territory but works for the material at hand. Alba Gaia Bellugi’s disturbing performance is a constant source of distress; her eyes and body expressions emanate danger. When will she strike? Bellugi admirably hides the unpredictability of Gloria’s actions.

Despite occasionally falling into generic territory and failing to answer some questions, Inexorable is a highly entertaining watch with blood, intrigue, twists, and turns to keep you on your toes. 

Inexorable screened at TIFF 2021 as part of the Special Presentations program.

Rating: 8

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