Monstrous return for Demi Moore, who stuns the Cannes Film Festival in “The Substance”

We have the shock film of this 2024 competition! In “The Substance”, a horror film by Frenchwoman Coralie Fargeat, the star embodies a former glory in conflict with a younger and more perfect version of herself. Changing flesh. Hectoliters of hemoglobin. A caustic parable about eternal youth.

Twenty-seven years since she last came to Cannes. It takes us back to the 90s, at the height of Demi Moore’s glory, global star, iconic sex symbol made popular thanks to Ghost, Indecent Proposal, Harassment, On equal terms Or Striptease. Ex-wife of Bruce Willis by the way. The rest of his career was, let’s say, more sluggish.

In cinema, we are never completely dead. And when it comes to thunderous comebacks, Demi Moore, 61, makes history with The Substance, in competition on the Croisette. She plays a character who strangely resembles her. And she gets naked. Former Hollywood star, Elisabeth Sparkle hosts a fitness television show but the exit door is not far away. You need freshness, bodies that freak out the thermometer, overheated audiences.

Demi Moore, in the role of a former glory ready to do anything to stay in the game. – Photo Working Title

She is then offered by an anonymous hand “The Substance”, a revolutionary product based on cell division, creating a younger and more beautiful alter ego. But we have to share the time. One week for one, one week for the other. And it is her double, the diaphanous, sublime, radiant and younger Sue (Margaret Qualley), who will take over in the spotlight, with real brilliance. Multiple shots of excited buttocks against a background of electro-pop, in front of salivating males (Dennis Quaid in the lead, as a cynical producer). We fear the worst, and déjà vu too, but we forget that the Frenchwoman Coralie Fargeat is in charge (the formidable revengein 2018, on the bloody vendetta of a raped young woman, in the American desert).

The two versions (Elisabeth/Sue) will soon come into conflict, but let’s not forget that they are one. The real subject, we guess, is the hatred of one’s own body, under the injunction of men. From then on, the horses are released. Changing flesh, deformed human sculptures and hectoliters of hemoglobin… You have to have a strong heart. The filmmaker openly quotes David Cronenberg, and even Brian de Palma in a finale which refers to the ball of Carrie. It splashes.

Please let the monsters in » launched Julia Ducournau when receiving her Palme d’Or in 2021 for the bloody and controversial Titanium. A director resolutely following in his wake, it seems that Coralie Fargeat has understood the message.

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