Gamers' Film Noir

Leave it to the French to bring their stylized filmmaking to the online gaming world. In Black Heaven, directed and written by Gilles Marchand, 21st-century gamers are not nerdy. They’re cool and sexy — kind of like the film. The movie begins with a doughy teenage couple answering a call on a lost cell phone at the beach (an admittedly tired way of introducing mystery into a screenplay; see When a Stranger Calls 2006 or 1979). Things get complicated when the couple thwarts a suicide attempt by a blonde, who then seduces and lures the boy into the world of Black Hole, a dangerous online game. From there the film weaves back and forth between real life and the virtual world with the distinction blurring between the two. Black Heaven hooks audiences by harnessing the rush of playing videogames. Throw in some mystery, sex, and Matrix-meets-Grand Theft Auto effects, and it’s enough to make you run out and buy a game console. As for the director, you wouldn’t know much about Marchand unless you’re a film buff or a Francophile, but his work deserves a wider audience. Find out for yourself by cueing up Human Resources and Lemming on Netflix.
March 18-24, 8 p.m., 2011


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