After the creepy insinuations of his debut, Afterschool, writer-director Antonio Campos addresses the American Abroad, and the results aren't pretty.
Brady Corbet plays Simon, a college graduate recently arrived in Paris after a painful break-up with his girlfriend. (He casually refers to her as "a whore", which isn't a good sign.)
Adrift and without friends, he battens on to a prostitute (Mati Diop), though her kindness seems wasted on this feckless, deceitful, cowardly, self-pitying narcissist – I like the detail of his mentioning, twice, that his research thesis has been published.
But the film struggles to impose itself. The problem is not that Simon is a sociopath. Sociopaths can be entertaining: just think of Tom Ripley. Alas, Campos's writing hasn't got the droll detachment of Patricia Highsmith, or her way with suspense.
As a director he has two basic camera moves, the first a long static stare, the second a back-of-the-head follow he overuses terribly.
Even the endgame, where Simon seems to have earned his epithet, is fluffed.