Two corporations compete for illicit 3D manga pornography, sending spies to infiltrate each other's operations.
There's a Cronenbergian coldness to Olivier Assayas' corporate thriller, from the sterilised white aeroplane cabin of the opening scene to the impersonal hotel suites, boardrooms and executive offices in which the rest of the film plays out. There's a touch of Cronenberg, too, in the interactive torture web site that's at the heart of the double-dealing.
But this is not Videodrome; it's not even as eye-catchingly topical in May 2004 as it was in May 2002, when it was booed by French critics at the Cannes Film Festival. Matching the icy whites and blues of the production design note for note, stone-hearted corporate spy Diane (Nielsen) shows little emotion as she screws over colleagues in order to safeguard her paymasters' interests in Japanese animated porn.
Unfortunately her antics, Assayas' dragged-out direction and the story's obvious twists don't stir any passions in the audience either.
The premise for this film is essentially not bad - but it's utterly wasted here. Our wait for a decent corporate espionage / interactive virtual porn film continues.
Reviewed by Alan Morrison