BAROCCO, from director André Téchiné is an entrancing and operatic take on a political thriller that invokes the plot twists and bizarre narrative elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO as it creates a world of crooked politicians, virtuous prostitutes, doppelgangers, and destiny.
On the eve of a local election in Amsterdam, Samson (Gérard Depardieu), a boxer, is paid to create a scandal by saying he had a homosexual affair with one of the candidates. Although Samson is reluctant to get involved, his girlfriend, Laure (Isabelle Adjani), persuades him to agree and use the money to escape the city. As Laure and Samson are attempting to leave the city, a gangster who looks exactly like Samson (played also by Depardieu) emerges from nowhere and murders him. An intricate chase ensues as the assassin tries to find Laure (and the money), the politicians and gangsters try to find the assassin, and Laure attempts to re-create her lost love in the form of the look-alike killer. The characters’ dancelike movement through the shadow world of Amsterdam and the evocative settings (a gleaming storefront brothel and a sinister underworld spa) provide austere backdrops to this metaphorical thriller. The dark side of politics and human nature are uncovered as Laure begins to love the assassin and the government attempts to control it all.