Power, obsession, and death; Eternal embraces them all.
Raymond Pope (Conrad Pla) is a vice cop in Montreal looking for a missing woman. His investigation leads him to the mansion of Elizabeth Kane (Caroline N?©ron), a woman of means, presence, and stature. Both Pope and Kane are powerful people used to others doing as they are told, but Pope quickly realizes he has underestimated Kane… and finds himself fascinated by it. What follows is a story of sex, murder, and obsession as Pope pursues Kane by every means at his disposal, but as he draws closer, it becomes less clear whether his motivation is to arrest her, possess her, or become her next victim.
The media included for Eternal describes the character of Raymond Pope as having “questionable morals.” That’s a nice of way of saying that Pope has a violent job that requires him to exercise complete control to execute, then forces him to unwind by placing himself in dangerous, carnal situations that he must know will inevitably get him into serious trouble. Actor Conrad Pla (looking eerily like Billy Zane and Vin Diesel combined at the genetic level) portrays Pope with the appropriate amount of strength, passion, and a certain amount of requisite brooding, talents necessary to play off of his ethereal adversary.
The object of Pope’s obsession, Elizabeth Kane, is regally portrayed by Caroline N?©ron. Every captivating moment she appears on screen fills it with her phenomenal presence and timeless beauty (equally conveyed with phenomenal sets, lighting, and cinematography). Like her brief and calculated appearances to others, her words are equally succinct. A possible yet fantastic explanation offered for Kane’s motives (and very existence) is hinted by way of an historical account of the real-life 16th Century Countess Erszebet Bathory, a woman who bathed in the blood of over 650 women to keep her appearance youthful and her life eternal. While the similarities are uncanny, all characters stop just short of saying that the two could be one and the same.
In direct contrast to Elizabeth Kane is Irina, played sadistically by Victoria Sanchez. Irina is useful to Kane, taking care of Kane’s mundane chores and even surfing Internet chatrooms trolling for potential victims. While Irina could have just been a punk Goth girl with death on the brain, she is instead Kane’s mirror opposite, an impatient killer more interested in the thrill than the hunt. In spite of this, Irina serves Kane because she idolizes her even if she doesn’t like her, and there’s always the promise that Kane might offer something more later as reward for faithful service.
There are more than a few similarities between this film and 1992’s Basic Instinct: a manipulative seductress who may or may not be a murderer, a detective in pursuit that isn’t sure what he’ll do even if he can tie the evidence to the criminal, and secondary characters dying in the crossfire. Eternal spins the concept a little wider with Gothic locations and lavish sets that hint at something more ancient and immortal, providing a brighter and more dangerous flame for Pope to be drawn to. Is it his mind, his life, or his soul that is truly in jeopardy?
A few questions still remain unanswered at the conclusion, but the unrated Eternal is still a captivating thriller that takes more than few unexpected turns. No twist ending here; an immortal obsession only lasts an eternity.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)
Just a footnote: Eternal opens August 26, 2005 in New York and
Sept 2 in LA (and other major markets, blah, blah, blah). A trailer is available on the official website.