Spellbinding infrared photography conjures a hallucinatory portrait of a haunted assassin (Jordi Mollà) in this sensuous experimental elegy from Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers, Trash Humpers).
In his 2012 programme note for Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, TIFF Midnight Madness founder Noah Cowan observed that the visionary director “thinks in pictures that no one else could even dream up.” Such original imaginings persist in Korine’s AGGRO DR1FT, his latest sensory experiment. Interpolating much of the artist’s patented proclivities with a radically chimeric visual style — achieved through spellbinding infrared photography and phantasmagoric animation — the film orbits around a melancholic assassin named BO (Jordi Mollà) as he prepares to vanquish a demonic crime lord in a Floridian realm of vivid pinks, blazing yellows, and deep purples. But the particulars of its minimalist plot are largely moot; the vibe is what’s paramount.
Enveloped by an extraordinary electronic score by AraabMuzik, Korine conjures a parade of arresting imagery that seems to emulate and interrogate contemporary genre clichés, while sincerely mining profound poetry from platitudes on violence and love. BO’s elliptical traversals through Miami, which take on mythical dimension, aesthetically recall the perverse spheres of crime-ridden videogames like Grand Theft Auto, and its inhabitants (which include rapper Travis Scott as a literal snake-tongued militia leader) recite and repeat dialogue with the amusing dissonance of the hasty dubbing of a non-playable character. The assassin himself is haunted by the spectre of an enormous computer-generated demon, which synchronously manifests alongside him as if his life were bound by the algorithmic rules of a simulation.
In what is at once a hallucinatory pastiche and an elegiac reflection of a chaotic world, Korine probes a new aesthetic frontier that finds a mesmerizing magic to its brutality.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: strobing effects, explicit violence, sexually suggestive scenes, coarse language