The French Magnum photographer Antoine d’Agata is known for three things: taking sublime pictures. Participating one hundred per cent in the environments he depicts. And that these environments are the most abysmal and doomed worlds we can imagine. The brand new film “Atlas” is no exception. It is almost like looking straight into hell – or at least at the earthly half-world, where prostitution and drug abuse leaves the human body in a deathlike shadow-realm of blackened chiaroscuro, which in Agata’s depictions assume a materiality almost like oil paintings. “Here we bury the dead and fuck the living”, says a woman on the soundtrack, which is the layer of the film that anchors the depiction of exhausted bodies in a transcendental subjectivity. D’Agata is not just interested in the self-destructive philosophy of excess. He lives it himself, and both in his pictures and with his own body in front of the camera he confronts the death wish, which the subjugation to opiates and an almost animalistic sexuality are both products of. A complex and problematic film will undoubtedly provoke and repel but will also etch itself onto your eyes and mind for a long time.
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