Not just the last movie the late Claude Mulot (a/k/a "Frédéric Lansac") made for French adult theater giant Alpha France, but his hardcore swan song as well before a belated return to the relatively mainstream (albeit with soft porn epic L'IMMORALE, initially intended to signal the cross-over from X to R for luminous lust legend Brigitte Lahaie who bowed out at the eleventh hour), LA FEMME-OBJET remains a peculiar beast in the history of Continental carnality. Originating from an intelligent and literate script that proves a particularly cruel spin on the Pygmalion myth with a dash of Frankenstein, the film offers an incisive critique on the pornographic representation of men (as virile and irresistible) and women (as available and accommodating) by expanding upon these stereotypes, taking them to grotesque extremes. Frustrated by the genre's limitations, Mulot proceeded to give adult audiences "exactly what they wanted". Whether the audience's desire to view anything is dictated by what a movie-making industry has come to dictate through repetition or an active influence on said industry remains open to debate and will forever fuel many an analytical paper.
Parisian author Nicolas (veteran performer Richard Lemieuvre a/k/a "Richard Allan" in an appropriately dispiriting, dead-eyed turn that's hard to shake) is no longer the debonair man about town that pornography has accustomed us to but a pathetic slave to an obsessive libido that quite literally forces him to have sexual encounters many times a day. This eventually makes him a nuisance to any female partner he might possibly be able to connect with on an emotional level, like sensuous, classy Sabine, played by radiant Nicole Segaud a/k/a "Helen Shirley", the pimping mom from Francis Leroi's sulfurous MA MERE ME Prostitute. A temp secretary typing out his latest manuscript, Lucille (lovely Laura Clair, the Doppelganger from Gérard Kikoïne's excellent CHAUDES ADOLESCENTES), offers rather appropriately only temporary solution as the poor girl is so exhausted that she ends up falling asleep in the midst of Nicolas' umpteenth attempt at what can now no longer be described as "lovemaking" ! Inspired by one of his own sexy science-fiction novels, currently in the process of being filmed by an aspiring young director named Byron (Frédéric Carton), whose assistant (creamy blonde Christina Maffei a/k/a "Chatsy Duenner", the imperious Madame from Jean-Claude Roy's LES APRES-MIDI D'UNE BOURGEOISE EN CHALEUR) he casually ravishes, Nicolas decides to build his own woman, a servile, anatomically correct, sexually insatiable robot : Kim (superstar Marilyn Jess). Though not equipped with the power of speech, Kim does not accept her status as "object-woman" for very long and in a clear case of "be careful what you wish for" begins to usurp her creator's authority of his own life, orchestrating carnal encounters that are no longer under his control (symbolized by the ever more pathetic remote he's manically weaving to diminishing effect) with the janitor bringing the mail or Sabine coming to pick up her belongings. In a last attempt to spite (and regain power over) Kim, Nicolas builds a second robot, tellingly a black girl, therefore less likely to rebel. By now however, Kim has evolved into a vengeful goddess for all women her maker has so casually used to satiate his enormous appetites throughout his life and forcefully takes his place in the bed while he's test-driving his new creation. Finally enslaved to a woman (ironically of his own making), unable to act of his own accord but answering to every demand made by remote control now wielded by Kim as a weapon of justice, Nicolas expires, empty and exhausted
Staying true to the f*ck film form, albeit with often intentionally joyless encounters, Mulot's explicit testament falls into that small niche of pornographic pictures that use the tools of their trade to question their own nature, movies that in retrospect have me wonder just how the average adult audience responded to them at the time of their first release. By their aberrant ideology, most of these films ultimately acquire cult status. Stephen Sayadian's equally unique CAFE FLESH would be another good example of such idiosyncrasy. Both movies share a stark black and white contrast between unsatisfying "enforced" sexual performance and the fulfillment of its loving "humane" counterpart. Without dialog for benefit, Marilyn Jess achieves amazing eloquence in the evolution of blank-eyed "love doll" to erotically autonomous liberated woman, a "monster" to the manipulative Nicolas and, by extension, the stereotyped "male" (rather than man because an abstraction, an addition to his penis) of pornography ? Whether one agrees or not, this film presents at least as much food for thought as it does for one's libido. Contrary to CAFE FLESH, several sex scenes here are indeed played for powerful erotic effect further enhanced by veteran cameraman François About's exquisitely colorful, brightly lit cinematography as women take charge, a move Mulot perhaps felt was necessary if porn was to survive as a genre and even art form, the only chance it stood of surmounting the boundaries that had become unbearable to him.
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