The film is rather compulsive and fascinating up to this point. Twists continue to mount in a considerable jolt, one character pulls a gun on Connie Nielsen and is revealed to be an agent for Demonlover, while Connies break-in is revealed to have been videotaped and is being held for blackmail purposes. However, about this point, and most certainly the point that a second major character is also revealed to be a Demonlover agent, plausibility starts to get away from the film and it starts to devolve into a mishmash of improbable contrivations. Other twists, such as the revelation that Connie Nielsen is not just a double agent but that her entire background is false, are thrown away with astonishing casualness. By the time of Connie Nielsen being abducted (twice), escaping from a chateau (replete with photos of Diana Rigg from The Avengers (1962-9) in homage), car chases and crashes, the cool paranoia the film opened with has been lost.
What is also deeply disappointing about the film is how little it has to say about the subject matter it takes up. The business conference scenes and tour of the Japanese lab show that Olivier Assayas has certainly done his research on the topic of hentai anime and the industry surrounding it, as well as the later scenes that show that he has looked into the business end of the online porn industry. However, all he can then think to do is bring up the nasty spectre of snuff sadomasochism. There is especially noticeable in a coda just before the film ends with a young teen kid in his parents home logging onto the Demonlover site and watching hardcore S&M feed, an unconnected scene that seems to have been inserted to deliberately provoke the knee-jerk reactions of alarmist groups who believe that the entire internet exists solely to lure young kids into viewing pornography. Demonlover is in many ways almost identical to 8MM (1999) and its journey of a man into a sordid world of vice to eventually discover an underground where snuff torture is performed. Like 8MM, Demonlover makes no distinction between erotica, pornography, between recreational and consensual BDSM and snuff, implying in a single conservative dismissal that it is all one indistinguishable mass of corruption.
Though French produced, Demonlover is a peculiarly cross-cultural film. It imports several moderately well known B-list stars from America Connie Nielsen, Chloe Sevigny and Gina Gershon and the dialogue vies between French and English (with no real explanation offered as to why either Connie or Chloes French characters speak perfect American). The tall, thin Connie Nielsen glides through the film with a regality that is at one point aptly described as an ice queen. Chloe Sevigny on the other hand manages, as in every film that one has seen her in, to seem dopey and half-asleep. Opposite Connie Nielsen, French actor Charles Berling plays with a ruggedly handsome Gallic charm. Gina Gershon steals a large part of the film, giving a charged performance, albeit the cliché of a vulgar American, that immediately captures attention the moment she enters indeed, the film loses much energy the moment she is written off. There is also an excellent atmospheric score from cult alternate band Sonic Youth.
French director Olivier Assayas has subsequently gone on to make works such as Boarding Gate (2007) and Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). He returned to genre material with the ghost story Personal Shopper (2016).
(Nominee for Best Musical Score at this sites Best of 2002 Awards).