dir. David Victori
Boasting the aesthetic of Gaspar Noé without actually being a Noé film director David Victori’s sophomore outing focuses on Dani (Mario Casas), a young man whose father has just died and who’s challenged by his sister Laura (Elisabeth Larena) to step out of his comfort zone and travel the world. The result is a gorgeous but terrifying tale to caution every introvert who’s ever toyed with taking a chance on a sexy stranger.
For whilst Dani can’t quite bring himself to take the leap of world travel, he does chance upon the troubled but alluring Mila (Milena Smit) who soon goads him into making a series of questionable choices. Starting small and quickly escalating, Dani finds himself in a nightmare of his own making, victim to his desires and demonstrable bad luck.
Initially slow-paced, Dani refuses to address the emptiness of his own life after so much time spent caring for his father has locked him into a dull holding pattern. It seems like he can’t be alone with his thoughts, every quiet moment filled with music, while the only real relationship in his life appears to be Laura. His job as a travel agent allows some interaction with people, and Dani’s convinced himself that these surface transactions fulfil any need for more intimate friends or lovers.
But as Dani is eating alone Mila pops into his life, asking him to pay for her dinner, then insisting he let her pay him back with a tattoo. The story could easily have been a romantic one, with this chance encounter becoming a beautiful love story the couple will tell their kids one day, and as Dani yields to Mila’s insistence it feels like he’s convincing himself of such a story. Alas, what transpires becomes far darker as the night unfolds.
Whilst spiritually similar to Noé’s work, Cross the Line manages to map its own path. Victori develops compelling and complex characters who make infuriating decisions, but ones which audiences can still empathise with: it’s a tale of desperation, at first to find connection and then for survival, with powerhouse performances fusing a tense, nail-gnawing journey into sex and violence.