As the '70s gave way to the '80s, Gérard Kikoïne was one of the forces to be reckoned with in the French porn industry. While former "regular" filmmakers like Claude Bernard-Aubert (a/k/a "Burd Tranbaree") and Jean-Claude Roy (a/k/a "Patrick Aubin") contented themselves with naughty yet ultimately moral tales of cheating wives and philandering husbands who always got their comeuppance in the final reel, Kikoïne along with Francis Leroi and Alain Payet occupied an altogether more disquieting position within the genre, unnerving the largely bourgeois clientèle of the average dirty movie palace at the time with his almost casual perversion. Unlike most of his colleagues, he'd had no (unsuccessful) mainstream career prior to his porno work. Perhaps as a result, the obvious disdain displayed by other directors towards these movies (and, by extension, their audience) was totally absent from his. Apart from the groundbreaking movie magazine "La Revue Du Cinéma", very few publications actually bothered to praise Kikoïne's efforts, though they were invariably of great interest as both cinema and erotica and there's evidence of considerable evolution in their maker's expertise over the years. Consequently, when Kikoïne got the opportunity to work on the fringes of the mainstream movie-making community (EDGE OF SANITY, BURIED ALIVE), he all but disowned his porno past, not out of shame but out of frustration for this scandalous lack of critical recognition.
I've already waxed lyrically over his ENTRECHATTES and ADORABLE LOLA, two "bookend" features if you will with this CHAUDES ADOLESCENTES elegantly perched in-between. Though some of his later work like DANS LA CHALEUR DE ST. TROPEZ and PRISON TRES SPECIAL POUR FEMMES already felt as if fatigue was setting in, this is definitely not the case here. In fact, ADOLESCENTES may eventually be regarded as his finest film bar none, a comedy of bad manners among the Parisian upper middle class that gradually turns into something far darker and more disturbing. Gorgeous Elisa (superstar Marilyn Jess), the spoiled model daughter of architect Paul Pasquier (stalwart Alban Ceray), doesn't mind her single dad fooling around with his busty secretary Martine (Jane Baker) but puts her foot down when he starts entertaining thoughts of marriage to journalist Christine, radiantly played by the exquisite Sophie Duflot whom you may recall as the woman with the bottle stuck in her nether region in the same director's CLINIQUE DES PHANTASMES. With the aid of her photographer-boyfriend Bertrand (Gil Lagardère a/k/a "Dominique St. Clair") and her lookalike best friend Colette (Laura Clair), she hatches a diabolical plan to change her father's mind. This involves an anonymously sent photo puzzle of a naked woman with all the "good bits" cut out, mysterious booty calls and a carefully orchestrated orgy where the truth comes out, or does it ?
Working from one of the most compelling screenplays ever in French porn, Kikoïne constructs a haunting mystery still left dangling in mid-air by film's end. Excellent casting has Jess and Clair as literally two sides of the same coin, the plot's outcome for the viewer to decide, depending on the trajectory that you think is the most cruel towards Paul : for him to realize he has committed incest with his too loving daughter or forever be in doubt as to whether he actually has crossed any forbidden border at all. Gérard Loubeau's terrific atmospheric cinematography is perfectly in tune with those things the director wishes to show and those he chooses to hide, keeping audiences guessing well beyond the final frames. In addition, Kikoïne has managed to squeeze in all the cheerful kinkiness his fans have come to expect, kicking off in grand style with saucy Sophie's vacuum cleaner masturbation and throwing in some off-beat Garden of Eden symbolism with the use of an apple in the lookalike lesbian liaison. It's hard to pick a favorite among the movie's many sexual situations, most of which actually propel the plot forward, but Alban's first foray to the mysterious villa and the strange erotic ritual unfolding in the swimming pool (the identity of his partner artfully obscured) remains impossible to forget both for style and capacity to arouse. Left to flounder in other directors' "efforts", the cast beautifully rises to the occasion to create a series of compelling characters, Jess displaying a potential for evil that is seriously unsettling and the too often taken for granted and Ceray really holding the film together as a harassed central character you'll find yourself rooting for.
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