From 1947 to 1949, Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck went on a killing spree and were believed to have killed something like twenty people whom they had found when browsing the lonely hearts ads. This story has been told numerous times over the years on television and in film but director Fabrice Du Welz has expertly crafted a dark tale of just how powerful (and poisonous) love can really be. His story was only partially inspired by the true events, using modern technology to set the story in motion and it just never quits. It also features two of the darkest and most disturbing performances I’ve seen in recent memory.
Michel (Laurent Lucas) is nothing more than a con man who has the undeniable ability to seduce women like no one else can. It’s a game to him, seduce a widow, get her to hand him some cash, then get the hell out, using an online dating website to find them. Gloria (Lola Duenas) is a widow with a young daughter. She has no real interest in dating until her friend signs her up an a dating website. She’s matched up with Michel but is very uncomfortable being put in the position. She reluctantly agrees to go out with him and the fire between them rages from the onset. Michel pulls his con on her but Gloria isn’t one to let go so quickly. She tracks him down only to learn his secret. Instead of getting pissed, she wants in on it and the two begin to earn their fortune. The problem is Gloria, who cannot contain her jealousy, goes off in a fit of rage, sending them into a downward spiral of bodies, blood, and betrayal.
Fabrice Du Welz has given us two of the most vile and disturbing characters I’ve seen on screen in a very long time. Their actions are repulsive but they’re somehow understandable, at least in the world they live in. Lucas and Duenas have such an anarchist chemistry, it’s impossible to rip your eyes away from the screen when the fireworks are exploding. Both characters are interesting but it’s the character of Gloria I was fascinated by. The love she feels for Michel is so strong, she just dumps her daughter off on a neighbor and takes off. She throws child-like fits when things don’t go her way and most likely end with a body. The film is told in four acts, each one named after the victim featured in that particular act. For me, the second act was the most powerful and bizarre, featuring a musical number and a dismemberment. I felt a little dirty after watching the film and that’s alright. There’s no way you can deny the shear power of the storytelling or hide from the darkness within each frame. ALLELUIA is a modern masterpiece, a film that gets so deep under your skin, you’ll never break free from it.