Arielle Dombasle has a long career as an actress that stretches back t a bit part in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain. She’s also tried her hand at writing and directing, most recently with Alien Crystal Palace. It’s a bizarre film that in terms of sheer weirdness hearkens back to her first role.
Alchemist Hambourg (Michel Fau, Requiem for a Killer), the son of the Egyptian God Horus, is determined to create “The Androgyne” the perfect fusing of male and female into the perfect being. He’s found the right subjects, film-maker Dolorès Rivers (Arielle Dombasle), and walking train wreck of a rock star Nicolas Atlante (Nicolas Ker).
An introduction is arraigned and Nicolas is hired to score Rivers’ new film. The two feel a connection but inexplicably fight it. This must obviously be changed, even if it means killing off all their other bedmates, including Nicolas’s wife Sybille (Asia Argento, Dark Glasses, Mother Of Tears).
I don’t even really know where to start with this film. Alien Crystal Palace is an insane collection of scenes and images. There is a plot but it keeps getting lost in the flood of skin-tight shiny costumes and bare skin. So much of the cast, including the 65-year-old writer/director/star, gets naked that it may be a record for a non-porn film. I should add Dombasle looks about 30 years younger than she is. And it’s not a case of using a body double.
With its plot and emphasis on creating an androgynous perfect being and dependence on incredible visuals, Alien Crystal Palace had me in mind of Robert Fuest’s 1973 adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s The Final Program AKA The Last Days Of Man on Earth. The immense amount of drugs the cast does also echoes the 70s and 80s cocaine chic. I haven’t touched the stuff in over 30 years and I was starting to crave a line by the end of it.
For all Alien Crystal Palace lacks plot-wise, the visuals kept me hooked and I followed along until the end. I may have been shaking my head and saying “what the fuck?” a lot but I was watching. I don’t think this is what Ms. Dombasle had in mind but there you have it. Or maybe that is the idea, get to where you can’t feel your face and then watch it. It may make sense then.
Alien Crystal Palace made its North American Premiere at Fantasia 2019. I’m sure there will be more festival dates. However, the film’s Facebook page hasn’t even been updated to reflect the Fantasia screening. So you’re on your own to find them.