(Written by Allison Brown)
Merriam-Webster defines Inexorable as “not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped.” This film from director Fabrice du Welz certainly fits the bill, leaving the audience constantly on edge once the true story begins to unfold, and providing a roster of inexorable characters. I can’t believe I almost skipped this one; the original Twitter synopsis from the festival was undoubtedly vague. All the tweet mentioned was a novelist who moved into an eerie mansion, which gives absolutely nothing away by means of the plot, and undersells the insane web weaved by du Welz. Inexorable is incredible, and I hope it gets the audience it deserves.
The film begins with father and daughter, Marcel (Benoît Poelvoorde) and Lucie (Janaïna Halloy Fokan), choosing a fluffy and white one-year-old pup to join their family. Meanwhile, a young woman checks into a hotel; seemingly unrelated, but this will soon come to fruition. They drive the dog, named Ulysse, to a giant castle-like home where we are introduced to the mother, Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey). The audience learns from a newspaper headline that the house previously belonged to Jeanne’s well-known family growing up, and she is moving back in with her own husband and offspring. Jeanne’s father was a successful book publisher, and she is just now taking over the reins of the business. Way back when, Jeanne and Marcel met in a bar, and she ended up editing his first and most successful book, Inexorable. Marcel is currently working on a follow-up to this best-selling piece as the story begins.
Soon after, Ulysse is lost and no one, not even their nanny Paola (Anaël Snoek), can find him. The aforementioned young woman, Gloria (Alba Gaïa Bellugi), gets off a bus and seemingly stumbles upon the adorable dog staring back at her. She hears the child calling its name and returns Ulysse to his rightful owners; she refuses any form of payment for this service. Gloria seems like a wonderful person, doesn’t she? Jeanne seems to think so. She invites Gloria for a drink, where she shares her past familial trauma, and they bond over the loss of parents. Gloria grew up as an orphan in foster care following her parents’ death in a tragic car accident. Eventually Jeanne allows Gloria, a complete stranger with no experience aside from a fondness of dogs, to teach Lucie how to train Ulysse. For some reason, she comes back the next day and the one following. She is eventually introduced to Marcel, and gawks at him as if she already knows him.
Marcel drives Gloria back to her hotel that night, and I thought I could already sense where this would end. Gloria walks into her room, grabs a soda can from the mini fridge, drops it in a sock, and attempts to beat herself in the face with it. Clearly, she is not the good Samaritan in which she presented herself; she is completely unhinged. Upon returning to the family household, Jeanne immediately notices Gloria’s swollen eye, which she claims she earned from a mugging near the hotel. Jeanne then takes it upon herself to invite Gloria (once again, an almost complete stranger) to live with them, as they have more than enough space to accommodate. For some reason, Jeanne decides to pay for the owed balance on Gloria’s stay, and Gloria slips out that Paola has been stealing from Jeanne’s purse. Of course, this is only an attempt to get rid of Paola, which is ultimately successful, so she can become a permanent fixture in the household as nanny.
From this point on, there are so many wild twists and turns, and many of them would be spoilers to reveal. As this type of story goes, Gloria completely manipulates the family into turning on each other in any means possible. Little Ulysse gets the short end of the stick, and is blamed for many poor behaviors, which eventually leads to upsetting measures taken. This film is completely worth an investment of one’s time, as it will be one I talk about for months to come.
Inexorable may not be the most unique or imaginative film, but it does not need to be. It has a lot in common with many thrillers before it: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Poison Ivy, just to name a few. However, it is such a superb time that I am willing to forgive the lack of originality. Once the truth and manipulation are revealed, it becomes a wild ride one will not want to exit. Inexorable could easily join the ranks of Netflix thrillers, and find a mainstream audience with a bit of dubbing.
Inexorable will slide its way into the audience’s life when it screens at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.