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Don't Look Back (2009 Film)

A French Film Starring Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci

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Sometimes We See What We Want To See....and Draw Our Own Perceptions....

  • Nov 26, 2010
Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci. Two of my favorite actresses in French and Italian cinema. Little did I know that I would see the two in one film together one day and what a treat it was. Director Marina De Van’s “Don’t Look Back” is a French psychological thriller brings elements of paranoia, confusion, fear and discomfort as the story brings the viewer into the psyche of a woman who just one day wakes up to see the world around her slowly change. It is not a comforting thought to one day find that the people, the things that you know may not exactly be the same as you’ve known all your life.

Jeanne (Sophie Marceau) is a journalist by trade and is now writing her own personal project; a semi-autobiographical novel that her editors have somewhat criticized. One day, Jeanne notices certain things that happen around her household as she notices certain unsettling occurrences; furniture has been rearranged, photos appear different, and even her husband and kids seemed to appear quite different, almost unrecognizable. What’s more frightening is the fact that she herself is beginning to undergo certain changes in her features as Jeanne slowly gains the face of another woman (Monica Bellucci) she doesn’t recognize. Desperate and confused, definitely frightened, beyond the aid of doctors and of family and friends; Jeanne would have to journey to Italy in the hopes of uncovering the truth to all her confusion…



What is just amazing in “Don’t Look Back” is the manner how Marina De Van unfolds its main premise. I have seen a lot of mind-benders, and I have to say this film grabbed me, intrigued me, definitely impressed me with the way it generated suspense and sustained it up to its climax. It was a truly creative touch as the viewer is taken to Jeanne’s actual perceptions; we see the changes through her eyes, it wasn’t meant as a shock or as a surprise change, we actually see things change through the camera, photos and even as her family’s faces begin to morph slowly. It is a creepy and unnerving experience for sure, as we see her kids make hand gestures out of character (almost through a looking glass), her face slowly change into someone else (a closer examination would show the husband’s eyes were mismatched) and I commend the direction in making those changes almost imperceptibly.

Just how would you react when you wake up one day and you find that things are starting to change and you don’t know what is causing it? This change not only affects those you see and what you know, but you yourself is morphing. I have to say that the CGI effects that renders Marceau’s transformation into Bellucci is downright creepy; you see the process slowly, I know the two are both lovely actresses, but when they begin to morph into “Mophica Marcelucci”, the results is as scary and unnerving as any creature made up in horror films. I guess I should stop here, since the film’s main aces come from the execution of slow-reveal and the less you know, the better its narrative impact would be.



Much as most of the credit goes to the writers and the direction, as for a film like this to succeed, Marceau and Bellucci will have to pull off the right emotions, have similarities in character acting while pulling off what is needed to express the extremes of each character when they are one. I know it sounds confusing, but my statement will make sense once you see the film. The first half of the film focuses on Marceau as she portrays the slow collapse of her psyche; she comes through with flying colors as I was kept in suspense, intrigued by her plight as she keeps me trying to put together the mystery. Marceau had me invested in her fear, and concerned about what would happen next. Bellucci in the second half, takes a more soulful reflection of the mystery, her journey into Italy is no less intriguing (ok, to be fair, some parts of the Italian trip dragged a little bit), as she slowly goes to unravel the mystery. True, the film did have some rough edges in the Italian scenes, but Bellucci manages to engage the viewer and quite honestly, I forgave some very minor pacing problems due to her delicate performance.

I suppose the film’s first half was so strong that I expected more from the second half up to the climax; don’t get me wrong, the film was very good and I believe that it sustained its momentum quite well, but I guess I was hoping for a more jaw-dropping conclusion. Not to say that the climax was lacking, it was just that the build up was just so powerful that it reached its plateau before it ended. I began to put the things together and I was satisfied with the way it established its groundwork; it is great direction and storytelling when the film answers all its questions.

“Don’t Look Back” is a sustaining piece of psychological drama that is restrained, quiet and methodical. True, it may not be the most original premise I’ve seen but what made it special was the fact that it developed its story very well. The director made Marceau and Bellucci into one compelling character and yet they were extremely different, but they handled the character quite well. It is not perfect, as the powerful first half wasn’t matched by its revelations, but thankfully it didn’t detract too much that it almost ruined the film.

Highly Recommended! [4+ Out of 5 Stars]

Sometimes We See What We Want To See....and Draw Our Own Perceptions.... Sometimes We See What We Want To See....and Draw Our Own Perceptions....

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December 05, 2010
OH Woop. You had me right up to the point where you said those horrible words, "it may not be the most original premise I've seen" and then you lost me. I was buying the whole thing and then you left me cold. This sounded as if it might be a keeper and then it died a horrible death right in front of my eyes. Is it really that predictable? I like to be surprised. I don't want to know where everything is going 10 minutes into the film. No matter how well crafted something may be I'm just too old to waste my time on films that telegraph it all.
December 05, 2010
I have to say Karen, it was intriguing and very creepy when you see those changes taking place. I was kept in suspense the whole time--it wasn't so much as predictable but the main concept isn't original. I have to tell you it had an awesomely cool execution though and an original development of its story--first time I've seen one done that way. It won't telegraph, trust me. The twist was good, but the Italian scenes were just slower. It is on instant watch in netflix as I remember.
December 05, 2010
Good. I'm glad I can stream it. That way I won't feel as cheated if I see it coming a mile away. I hate it when that happens. I'll give it a try--maybe tomorrow when I don't have to go over and take care of the cats and have my whole day free.
December 05, 2010
Intriguing! I love a good mystery! If I come home and my furniture has been moved around, that's because my mom is in town, LOL... Oh, btw, where's that Jet Li's film which tempted me awhile back. Is the review out?
December 05, 2010
Thanks, Sharrie! Li plays a man with autism, ala-Rain Man. The title is OCEAN HEAVEN. I still need to watch it, it's been sitting on my shelf.
November 27, 2010
Didn't even know about this one, great review WP.
November 27, 2010
Thanks, Alex...I really liked this one and it is now available for instant watch in netflix; I bought the movie first chance I got. Had a feeling that you dug Bellucci...

Hey, I know you're a wrestling fan, maybe you'll be interested in THE ROCK's new movie? (Hint hint
November 26, 2010
Why couldn't they have added Juliette Binoche and Audrey Tautou to the mix? LOL! Then I would definitely see it.
November 26, 2010
LOL! I am surprised you don't like Bellucci...
November 26, 2010
She never really does anything but pout and try to look sexy.
November 26, 2010
...not in films from her native land....and what's wrong with that? LOL!
November 26, 2010
I want to see acting and not just good looks. Otherwise we might as well just watch models on the runway, but that would just be dull.
November 26, 2010
Don't get me wrong...I am with you. But she is
November 26, 2010
Eh. : I
November 26, 2010
hey, the photos on this review look ok at your end? seems larger than usual in mine....
November 26, 2010
They're big, but I figured that's why you chose them. LOL!
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Don't Look Back (French: Ne te retourne pas) is a 2009 French thriller film directed by Marina de Van.

Not to be confused with the legendary D.A. Pennebaker documentary of the same name, this mind-bending psychological drama from France stars Sophie Marceau as Jeanne, a fairly well-adjusted wife, mother of two children, and author whose world gets turned upside down when she becomes aware of a calamitous transformation overtaking her own body. She quickly morphs into an Italian woman, also named Jeanne (Monica Bellucci); the latter's husband (like the first Jeanne's spouse) is named Teo (Thierry Neuvic). Understandably confounded and disoriented, Jeanne 1 sets out to solve the mystery of this metamorphosis by journeying to Jeanne 2's birthplace of Lecce, Italy. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Jeanne, a wife and mother of two, realizes that small changes are taking place in the arrangement of her family home, as well as in her physical appearance, although she seems to be the only one to notice. Jeanne is certain that her changes of perception are as a result of something profound, not stress or fatigue as everyone else seems to believe. Upon visiting her mother, she comes upon a photograph that pushes her to travel to Italy in order to track her down. In Italy Jeanne will solve the mystery behind her changes, after having undergone a full transformation.

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