Combat Zone

Eros and the Abyss Movie Review

Watch the trailer for “Eros and the Abyss” here

By Judd Apatow

  I don’t believe in asking why. If someone had asked me why I intended to make a movie starring Steve Carell as a middle-aged man who gave up on losing his virginity, I would probably have reconsidered right then and there and missed out on $21 million. The same principle applies here. I could ask why Werner Herzog moved in on my turf and made a raunchy sex comedy about desperate high school seniors… but I’m not going to, because I just saw it, and it is a masterpiece. It is true cinema, true art – the human condition painstakingly rendered on screen in its awkward, messy, earnest glory. At this point, I may have to hang my hat. “Eros and the Abyss” is the cinematic experience of a lifetime, and it is about a high school senior trying desperately to lose their virginity before they graduate.

  Buoyed by a stirring soundtrack composed by BØRNS and Westside Gunn, “Eros and the Abyss” takes a stark look at the swirling maelstrom of American high school, capturing such bleak footage of nerds being stuffed in lockers and jocks trying to repress their homosexuality through football that it transports the audience back to the worst years of their lives. Yet the unflappable determination of the protagonist, matched only by his complete inability to talk to women, shines like a beacon. Lo, the downtrodden socially awkward masses clutching books and binders to your chests: your savior has arrived. 

  Werner Herzog’s eye does not glorify the protagonist’s desperation, but rather sees the inspiration in his story, for this story relates to every level of the high school ecosystem. Too many sex comedies reach for the mass-market bawdy jokes, but Herzog pours only from top-shelf universal truth. Inside this high school senior’s desperate quest to lose his virginity is a desperate bid for acceptance from a society that has cruelly shunned him, but a society he must love nonetheless, for the alternative is to be truly alone in an uncaring universe. At some point, everyone has felt themselves to be on the margins of human society, standing on the outside looking in; some more frequently than others, perhaps, but so it goes. Werner Herzog has built his career around standing on the outskirts, camera at the ready, looking at those who find themselves on the margins as well, but it would seem he has found unfathomable depths to mine in the halls of American high schools, where everyone is convinced that they are on the outside looking in.