Naked Opera Angela Christlieb

Naked Opera Angela Christlieb
8
Marc Rollinger, an affluent Luxembourgian businessman with a penchant for the finer things in life, spends his time away from the office jetting around the world to watch various incarnations of the drama giacoso, Don Giovanni. Through projection and association, he compares his own idiosyncratic, indulgent and self-destructive existence to the tragedy—being an opera about a promiscuous ladies man whose pride is inevitably his undoing—having (what doctor's assume to be) very little time left on this mortal coil.

A self-proclaimed asshole, he doles out glib, self-deprecating remarks about the frivolity of making a documentary with such a supercilious subject, posturing power by having waiters rearrange sculptures to his aesthetic liking and changing hotel rooms when the chandeliers prove too pretentious. His disposition could easily pass as vulgar, considering, in particular, his penchant for hiring young call boys and porn stars to act out dramatic sexualized fantasies, yet his self-awareness of his own mercurial tendencies and sense of humour about the social constraints that allow fiscal dominance to control give him a weirdly affable air.

In part, his constant disagreement with the documentarian and playful insolence gives this impression, but it's director Angela Christlieb's gradual deconstruction of his ego defences—and decision to leave the extent of his medical condition until late in the film—that completes the portrait.

She mixes his superficial, jet-setting lifestyle with scenes from Joseph Losey's Don Giovanni and infuses superimposed background action over windows, interjecting the occasional impressionist dalliance, to create an idea of how Rollinger is performing his identity. But amidst his sleazy rituals with generic, interchangeable callboy twinks, having them strip, drink champagne and wax petulant, throwing peach pits on the ground or posing as sulky mannequins for his photo albums, there's a sense of screeching desperation and intense sadness.

Disappointed when his reliable and, more importantly, obedient porn star plaything, Jordan Fox, takes him to an S&M bar to indiscriminately fuck any stranger within reach, he confesses the loneliness of perpetually being the seducer. "Everyone wants to be seduced," which seems to be why he has his boys sign postcards from around the world that he ultimately mails to himself as a means of sustaining delusion.

The resulting trajectory is one that shares the tragic comedy of Don Giovanni, scratching away the pretense of a man suffering the very human pain of exaggerated mortal awareness in relation to being alone. And having built up an array of defences to protect himself from the rejection he's become accustomed to, he's created his own impenetrable prison that will ultimately be his proud undoing. (Amour Fou)