Gaspar Noé’s “Vortex,” an acclaimed meditation on mortality told entirely in split-screen, has sold to Utopia. The deal is for North American rights and comes on the heels of the film’s debut at this year’s Cannes, where it was greeted with a standing ovation and critical acclaim.
Eric Kohn of IndieWire compared to movie to the Oscar-winning “Amour,” writing that the drama about an aging couple in a Paris apartment is “the most sensitive and accessible work from a filmmaker for whom those descriptors rarely apply.” Indeed, Noé has carved out a career for himself as something of a cinematic provocateur, directing challenging and controversial works such as “Enter the Void” and “Climax,” which have shocked and polarized viewers with their violence, psychedelic editing and edgy sex. The change in tone is partly due to the fact that “Vortex” was inspired by the deaths of some of the director’s friends and his own near-fatal cerebral hemorrhage.
“Vortex” stars Dario Argento, the legendary director of “Suspiria,” and Françoise Lebrun, an actress best known for “The Mother and the Whore.” Alex Lutz rounds out the cast.
“Vortex” recently screened at the Locarno International Film Festival, where Argento received the lifetime achievement award, and will next be showcased as part of the New York Film Festival lineup.
The movie follows a mother (Lebrun), who faces advancing dementia; a father (Argento) struggling to care for his wife while dealing with his own declining health; and their son (Lutz), who does his best to help them both in spite of his own personal problems.
“Vortex” is produced by Edouard Weil, Vincent Maraval and Brahim Chioua. Production companies are Rectangle Productions and Wild Bunch International. The deal was negotiated by CAA Media Finance and Eva Diederix of Wild Bunch International with Danielle DiGiacomo, head of content, and Candace Tan, content manager of Utopia.
“With ‘Vortex,’ Gaspar Noé brings his fearless and masterful filmmaking to create a profound investigation of mortality; there is no better representation than the kind of bold, boundary-pushing cinema that Utopia loves to support than this film, and we can’t fully put into words how excited we are to be partnering with him to bring this film to audiences,” DiGiacomo said.
Utopia’s recent films include “Shiva Baby” and Errol Morris’ documentary “American Dharma.”
Variety's Brett Lang contributed to this post.