Backstage defines “squick” as a term used “to convey one’s personal discomfort with material that others might not find objectionable.” The online encyclopedia goes on to explain that common squicks range from “particular romantic pairings, sexual orientation, dynamics within pairings, and specific sexual acts,” to more gruesome scenarios such as death, violence, and rape. A squick is a physical, palpable reaction to something intangible, and French actress Emmanuelle Seigner squicks me.

She grossed me out in Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon, as she poured milk on her naked body in an attempt at seducing and tormenting Peter Coyote, and I found her repulsive in The Ninth Gate, as she flashed her naked body in an attempt at seducing-and tormenting-Johnny Depp.

It comes as no surprise that she should squick me in Emmanuelle Bercot’s Backstage, where she plays a fabulous-and fabulously screwed up-pop star to Isild Le Besco’s wide-eyed, corrupted, not-so-innocent fan.

The star-struck girl is a basically normal teenager, before the diva-a beautiful train-wreck à la Courtney Love-enters her life. Lucie is a dark, pseudo-Goth suburban teen obsessed with music, teetering on the edge of bipolar puberty, filled with contempt for her mother. When the well-meaning woman signs her up for a reality TV show and Lucie gets a surprise visit from the object of her affection, all hell breaks loose. And the film begins.

Pop star Lauren Waks’s arrival into Lucie’s life shatters the young girl’s world, as she becomes obsessed with the singer, and longs to be reunited with her idol. After hitchhiking to Paris, where she joins a crowd of groupies gathered outside the star’s hotel hideout, Lucie finally manages to gain entry to Waks’s inner circle. She becomes the selfish star’s best friend, confidante, and drug dealer, and it soon becomes hard to tell which, of the two, is most obsessed with the other. Waks sends Lucie out to score prescription drugs, gives her clothes, and unwittingly shares her lover with the troubled teen-whose obsessions and delusions grow to the point where she can no longer tell where her own life ends, and the singer’s begins.

Backstage is both drama and social commentary, and is at once sensual and chillingly cold, warm and clinical. The film allows us a peek at the evils of stardom, lurking unseen by the public eye. It seduces, repulses and rejects, and leaves you hungry for more. (Andree Lachapelle)

Dir. Emmanuelle Bercot