A provocative erotic drama, stylishly rendered by Andre Techine, who won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for this compelling investigation into the intersection of sexual and artistic passion.
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Hmm, this is one of those hard to divine films. A lady escapes rape and is taken into the home of a photographer. Things get a little strange from here. Actually things are somewhere away from normal from the outset. The attempted rape is choppily edited, the lady's escape occurring before we see much. And before she meets her rescuers car we hear Bach from a radio and the cries of a DJ of electric breeze, that this isn't life but culture, revolution, joy. This is important I think. Our heroine Silvia (Dirce Funari) winds up at the pad of Claudio, and he dispassionately trains his studio lights on her as she recounts her trauma. Then she is mostly abandoned for a while, she flits about Claudio's place scanning art (pots, dolls in jars, a key, eyes), she revisits her encounter in hallucinatory nightmare and goes through a few quirks of low key strangeness. In the meanwhile we learn more about Claudio, photography is not his real job and the cut-off between reality and art, and culture is reinforced, beautifully so in a scene in which his light upon a naked model dances with her hand trying to preserve her modesty. And as the film goes on we go deeper, Claudio was a war reporter, he is traumatised and his inner wounds have lent themselves to his approach to women, art and objects. Things slowly build, with a fair dose of nudity and perversion (a highlight being a lady eating crumbs off Claudio's chest rapidly intercut with her giving him a handjob) and weirdness mounts, but sadly there isn't too much suspense. The editing robs the film of conventional sense of time which is no bad thing in itself, but neither the writing nor acting is strong enough to provide the sense of power dynamics which are essential to such a closed affair as this, so when things really kick off they don't have as much impact as they should. Still, the dislocated weirdness is a significant dreamy draw with a good number of individual unusual scenes and some unsettling wartime footage, and there are some interesting scat shenanigans towards the end which both relate directly to Claudio and draw comparison with (far superior) Sweet Movie. And the ending is just the right kind of mind twister, leaving us to wonder just whose madness we've been embroiled in, just what everything that has gone before means. Altogether its a fun watch, touching at art, trauma, madness and sexual perversion, all the good stuff basically. Plus the women are gorgeous and the soundtrack is pretty much all Bach, so aesthetically its a class act. Not something that leaves a real big impression, but if surrealist exploitation trash is your cup of tea this one is definitely worth your while.
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