On Assayas' "Boarding Gate"
Olivier Assayas' "Boarding Gate" is exquisite, smart, and devastating. It is beautiful and reminds me of Wong Kar Wai's shots of Hong Kong — the lights, colors, reflections. Some might find the film difficult or slow; it does not give us the back story; things are not explained. We are privy only to the relations on screen, all of which assume events that have happened but which we will never know or witness.
The story, for Assayas, is irrelevant because this is not a story about people. It is a map of relations and the terms of the those relations. And the new terms, the dominant terms, don't give a fuck about sentiment or the past. The film gives us the malaise, the daze, of contemporary global capitalism — jet lag, capital exchange, identity blurred then phased out entirely. If it can't be exchanged, it isn't.
We're never quite sure what is being made and sold — what's legal and illegal becomes irrelevant: it's all the flow of money and goods. Such is the economy of quantity, of impersonal exchange, cash as the ultimate abstraction that effaces affect and, in the end, personhood.
And poor Asia Argento (Sandra) — the last stand of humanity, of passion, of affect. She feels, she longs, she loves, she pines. She is certainly immoral if not amoral. But in the world of capitalism, these things mean nothing. She thinks she's playing one game but there's another game she doesn't ever understand or even see — the game of capital exchange, the devastating indifference of it all, the even cool calculating will to more, to profit, to quantity.
In "Post-Cinematic Affect," Steven Shaviro does a good, thorough reading of the film. But he reads the end of the film quite differently that I do. For Shaviro, her restraint affirms her humanity over and against the dehumanizing will of capital exchange. The blur at the end is her choosing another line of flight.
I read it quite differently: the blur is her disappearance. There is no place for her passion, her lust, her rage in this world. The economy of quantity has eclipsed the economy of affect. She has been used; they are done with her; she is disappeared. The final shot of this film rips my heart and soul out every time.