It’s hard to know what to say about Sam Levinson’s already controversial HBO series other than it speaks volumes about the increasingly captivating antics of the Cannes Film Festival that a place has been made at the prestigious Grand Théâtre Lumière for the first two episodes of a cable television show. In a case of life imitating art, the crazy scenes surrounding the premiere wouldn’t have been out of place on screen in a story that, at least as far as anyone can tell, is a satire of the world saturated with contemporary pop sensations. culture, where good is bad and bad is the bare minimum.
Presented without explanation or context, The idol rolled out in two roughly 50-minute chunks, featuring a calmer setup than its trailer suggests. The opening scene is a photo shoot for the famous Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a famous singer recovering from depression after the death of her mother. Dressed in a skimpy red kimono, Jocelyn is in a state of what Depp’s mother, Vanessa Paradis, would describe as undressedand for the next 100 minutes or so she will never be dressed Again. Disturbingly, she still wears the bracelet from her recent hospitalization, but her management ignores her. “Mental illness is sexysays the abrasive Nikki (Jane Adams, brilliantly thrown against type).
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Jocelyne is planning her comeback, but ticket sales for the next tour don’t change like before. To launch the ad, Jocelyn’s team invited a vanity lounge writer to come watch the prep, which begins with rehearsals for his new video, “World Class Sinner,” an actually quite compelling slice of mediocre R&B. Comparisons are drawn to Britney Spears, but Jocelyn is more of a rebellious Courtney Love type, and her manager, Chaim (Hank Azaria), encourages her worst excesses, locking the filming privacy coordinator in a bathroom to cancel. the record company’s “nudity rider”. “Who would police those breasts?” says Nikki, who gets quite a few zingers like that.
Even Chaim is shocked, however, when an image pops up on Twitter that sets the internet on fire. This appears to be a selfie of Jocelyn with cum on her face, and her appearance sparks both consternation and a fun discussion of the word “bukkake” (don’t google it, especially at work, if you don’t know not already). It’s a bad time for a visit from Jocelyn’s LiveNation rep (Eli Roth), and he’s understandably furious to learn that she’s been called a “human cumsock” on social media. (“How are 14-year-old girls going to buy tickets for this when it’s frosty like a Pop Tart?”)
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Jocelyne, however, isn’t bothered by this whole rather extreme storyline, which leads to a brief and not entirely convincing discussion of revenge porn and slut-shaming. Instead, she fears the new song might be silly, something she feels unable to discuss with her team (“When you’re famous, people lie to you”). She gets the chance soon enough after meeting the charismatic impresario Tedros Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye), who seduces her on the dance floor of his popular nightclub and earns her trust. He thinks the song is OK – it’s just his delivery that’s disgusting. “When you sing, ‘I’m a freak,'” he explains, giving the example of Donna Summer, “you have to sing it like you know how to fuck.”
By the second episode, Jocelyn gave it a lot of thought, much to the horror of Team Jocelyn, who reacted with barely concealed contempt to her provocative, uncommercial attempt to remix what Nikki angrily calls “a big boob hit.” . It doesn’t help that the video for “World Class Sinner” isn’t doing well either; Jocelyn is a neurotic wreck, struggling with the dance routine and insisting on multiple takes that leave her bloodied and exhausted. Jocelyn’s return becomes increasingly fragile, and the sudden appearance of Tedros – a man with no past, just a shady present and a lot of debt – has the team very concerned. Tedros hasn’t had much screen time thus far, but in the second episode shown, he suddenly becomes much more assertive, bringing a group of his friends to Jocelyn’s house and talking about collaborating with her. “It’ll be easier if I move in,” he says, as these friends go wild at Jocelyn’s house, one of those innocuous Bel-Air mansions that young stars so often but never really occupy. live In.
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So where is this all going? It’s impossible to say, except to wildly speculate, given director Sam Levinson’s track record as the creator of HBO. Euphoria, that something, probably quite unpleasant, is brewing. Visually, with its neon-black color palette and preponderance of red fabric, The idol is a part giallo, erotic thriller in one part and therefore in two parts Brian De Palma. We can also put Paul Verhoeven in the mix, although Levinson brazenly references Primary instinct rather than expected Showgirlsshowing Jocelyn and her PA/BFF watching it on late night TV.
There are, however, no obvious signs of tension, at least not yet. Could there be a clue in Nikki’s claim that Jocelyn’s look is “a bit Sharon Tate” and the fact that Tedros has assembled a loose family of misfits as he tries to break into the music industry? the music ? And is Jocelyn groomed when she joins in a mournful song sung by Tedros’ prodigy, Chloe – an oft-naked Suzanna Son – which ends with the chorus: “It’s my family/We don’t like each other very much/I’m ok with that/But it breaks my mom’s heart.”
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Until we know more, it’s hard to make value judgments about morality and ethics, or, more concretely, the arguments about the male gaze and the rights of the female body that come in the water. like a stealthy torpedo. However, it turns out that Depp is quite an engrossing game with, to say the least, a highly sexualized performance that’s also grounded and often vulnerable, disconcertingly touching on the fine lines between porn and art, power and power. exploitation that young women have faced in music. industry for years.
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Title: The idol
Festival: Rods (Out of Competition)
Director: Sam Levinson
Screenwriters: Sam Levinson, Abel Tesfaye,
Discard: Lily-Rose Depp, Abel Tesfaye, Jane Adams, Suzanna Son, Hank Azaria, Eli Roth
Runtime: 1 hr 46 min (two of six episodes screened)