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Three naked couples sleep, make love, and awake in an empty skyscraper littered with millennium party debris in one of four provocative shorts from France's most acclaimed young director, Francois Ozon. (French with English subtitle)
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VICTOR is one of Francois Ozon's more elaborate and polished short films, but like most of them is made up more of gimmick and would-be "shock value" than substance.
The title character is a nerdy youth, the sort of creep one would find as an object of ridicule in nearly every U.S. low-brow teen comedy of the '80s.
Film begins with what is hinted to be his suicide, as he's writing a farewell letter to his parents; the gag is he shoots them first and is saved from suicide by the arrival of their pretty maid.
What follows is typical rebelling-against-authority, again so reminiscent, but in a vastly different milieu, from standard U.S. drive-in fare from the '50s through the '70s. I remember how those Hollywood films, so dissimilar on the surface ranging from Vincent Price/Roger Corman Poe adaptations to an endless array of biker/car chase movies, all had in common the destruction of the inherited world from adults.
Victor keeps his parents' corpses, managing to live with the increasing odor of decomposition, as Ozon plays with unfunny but meant to be gag-like posing of them in bed with him, all dressed up for a dinner they can't eat, or adorned on swing sets as their son plays outside.
Recurring dumb gag is an ancient gardener whose words of wisdom for Victor are duly repeated verbatim over and over, he's a 78rpm record with a locked groove.
Typical of asinine shock effects is Victor outside masturbating (framed only in a head shot) with SPFX semen sprayed on his face when he ejaculates. It's stupid, mock-porn for wimps, and recalled for me an effective (and quite rare in cinema) XXX scene of Peter North actually executing this effect in one of his gay porn appearances, THE BIGGER THE BETTER. If you're out to shock, then shock!
Ozon manages to sneak in his usual "breaking the barrier" content when the maid brings her beefcake "cousin" to stay, developing into a menage a trois where it is apparent the he-man has eyes for Victor, in what passes for a bi-sexual troilism softcore sequence in the bathtub together.
Film's desultory conclusion has the maid & lover splitting, after latter has stolen items from the mansion including ma's jewelry (with Victor happy to see these artifacts go), and Victor likewise splitting, last seen boarding a metro.
At first suggesting (but not delivering upon) the mood and irreverence of a Walerian Borowczyk exercise, VICTOR ultimately is just the facile horsing around of one of France's most self-indulgent auteurs.
Ozon's prominence is a symptom of the decadence of French cinema, like current Hollywood in dire need of a rebirth. Most long-time French film buffs content themselves with revisiting the classics of the Silent Era (Duvivier, etc.), the poetic realism of the Golden Age (Carné, Renoir and dozens of other masters) and the best of the New Wave, left or right bank. The mid-'70s brought XXX porn to France and with wimpy softcore hacks like Ozon, Brisseau and the more adventurous (including XXX content) Breillat it's been all downhill from there.
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