Backstage (Emmanuelle Bercot) 63 – Locking its sights on obsessive behavior, Backstage feels almost like All About Eve as re-imagined by Clare Denis (Denis’ frequent collaborator Agnes Godard shot it to boot). The film starts on an exceptionally high note with a scene that turns a reality show meeting with a teen girl’s celebrity idol into a harrowing and uncomfortable study in inappropriate awkwardness. Following that fiasco, Lucie, the embarrassed girl, improbably makes her way into her object of obsession’s inner circle, prompting a complicated emotional journey that reveals a several strikingly destructive cases of codependence.
Bercot slightly loses her control in the second hour, as the protagonist becomes more aggressive in her plotting. The film, which seemed to power on infatuation and instinct early on, becomes more conventionally plotted, which is disappointing, even if it never exactly nosedives. Throughout, the director refuses to take the easy way out of a confrontation, always making the audience squirm before she ends a scene of conflict. It’s an intelligent approach that leaves few motivational questions unanswered in a film chock full of complexly layered (and impressively performed) roles. Clearly, Bercot is a director to watch.