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I generally tend to give mixed or positive reviews to movies, not because I like all movies, but because I just don't watch movies I'm not interested in (at least somewhat) and I sure don't waste time reviewing them. I'll never review big-budget Hollywood movies, not because there always bad but because they are almost never interesting. To paraphrase Robert Frost: I have taken the road less traveled and that has made all the difference (and led me to watch a whole buttload of weird-ass movies).
I like to use this site to exchange information on obscure movies. There are too many people raving about how this movie is the best they've ever seen or that movie is the biggest waste of celluloid ever(kind oflike Comic Book Guy on "The Simpsons"). The best movies I've ever seen already have plenty of champions and I don't waste my breath on the ones I hated.
Anyway, feel free to drop me a private message e-mail (if you're so inclined). It's always good to exchange info. on interesting flicks, or just correspond with a fellow traveler.
A Story without a Moral
If you read the synopsis of this movie, it is really easy to write it off as another #metoo tale, but it actually a pretty singular story and more complex than that. The coach (Jeremie Renier) is certainly abusive, but he is not a one-dimensional predator. He seems genuinely focused on being a coach and is not simply "grooming" the teenage protagonist (Noee Abita). It is perfectly acceptable for elite coaches of underage athletes to be physically and emotionally abusive--he just takes it a step farther and is sexually abusive as well. The teenager is certainly confused and traumatized by what is happening, but still remains in the orbit of this charismatic authority figure. I won't spoil the ending, but it will frustrate those expecting a morally unambiguous #metoo message. This movie actually reminded of the recent American film "Diary of a Teenage Girl" in that it refuses to impose a clear moral on the narrative, but leaves it to the viewer to draw their own.
I find most of these movies a little hypocritical since they always seem find an incredibly attractive 20-year-old to play the "teenager" and an incredibly attractive 35 year old to play the older predator, and French movies always seem to add some teenage (or rather "teenage") nudity. But both actors are excellent and quite believable as elite athletes. The sex scenes are both hot (because of the actors involved) and troubling (because of the story) at the same time, so you just have to deal with that. The skiing scenes are simply wonderful , and its a very beautiful looking movie. You can decide for yourself what the moral is.
Hmmm. . .
The premise of this documentary is to try to conflate hecklers and critics. The problem is the two groups are completely different. Hecklers (if you didn't know) are drunken idiots who try to disrupt performances that they themselves paid to see. Critics, however, 1. Are doing a legitimate job, 2. Only affect the people that freely CHOOSE to read and view them, and 3. Even if they are all virgins living in their parents' basement., are STILL far more entertaining than a ;lot of half-ass comedians like Jamie Kennedy.
It's weird to see someone come off so unlikeable in a documentary he himself directed. Kennedy tries to confront his various critics. But he loses all these confrontations as his only rejoinder seems to be that they're all just jealous because he rides around in limousines and gets more stranger sex than they do. But isn't that probably true of all celebrities? Why isn't Leo DiCaprio critically reviled?
I expect this from Kennedy (and maybe he's being ironic anyway), but it's sad to hear comedians like Bill Maher and Andrew Dice Clay complain about critics attacking THEM. If your JOB is to throw stones at others, guys, you can't live in a glass house. Maybe if an insult is funny it's not really mean, but then some on-line critics are pretty damn funny. The documentary ends with the famous footage of critically-reviled German director Uwe Boll beating up his critics in boxing matches (one of whom was a 17-year-old kid). But does that somehow make Boll any better of a filmmaker? And does Kennedy utterly failing to lay a glove on any of his critics in this weird doc make him any more talented as an actor or comedian? Hmmm.
La Consolation (2017)
Flavia Flament vs. David Hamiliton
This French TV movie is basically the account of the juvenile rape/sexual assault TV personality Flavia Flament suffered (or allegedly suffered) at the hands of pervy British photographer/filmmaker David Hamilton. There is no reason to doubt Flament's story, although Hamilton's suicide two weeks after she made her accusation public could be interpreted just as easily as guilt or innocence. I certainly don't want to take away from Flament's Gallic "me-too" moment here or cast aspersions on the feminist statement this movie makes. But David Hamilton does make for a pretty easy target. This is a guy who basically made a career out of filming older teenage and young adult women in various stages of undress, and photographing even younger female models like Eva Ionesco (who recently directed a similar movie called "MY little Princess", the villain there being her own mother). It's a little TOO easy to portray him today as a pedophile and a rapist. I take Flament's story at face value, but Hamilton's work and reputation could just as easily render him an unfair target of publicity-seeking opportunists as it could be used to substantiate his guilt.
The movie does make the somewhat unfortunate choice of a wrap-around story where the adult Flament (Emily DeQuenne) suffers fainting spells and goes to a female psychiatrist to recover memories of the sexual assault she suffered at 13. While I'm sure this is perfectly true, memories "recovered" by psychiatrists are probably the most suspect when it comes to false accusations of abuse. Psychiatrists have been known plant false memories of abuse in children and distorted memories of teenagers and adults. Regardless, cinematically, the flashback scenes with the young Flavia (Lou Gable) on the beach with her mother and sister where she was "discovered" and photographed by the already-famous photographer are far more compelling than the scenes of the adult Flavia talking to her psychiatist. And going back and forth between the present or past in such a short movie also tends to detract from this being a PERSONAL account (the strength of French films like "My Little Princess") because the movie simply doesn't spend enough time to develop a strong relationship with either the adult or the adolescent Flament (although Lou Gable fares better than Emilie Dequenne). The result is perhaps too much of a tilt from personal story to lurid sensationalism.
David Hamilton himself is at least not portrayed as an obvious mustache-twirling villain (and there have not been numerous accusations made against him, unlike with someone like Harvey Weinstein). It is a little shocking that Flavia's mother thinks nothing of leaving her adolescent daughter alone in the company of a nude middle age man (Hamilton apparently did his photography in the nude), even if he is a famous photographer and his wife was around. It's hard to imagine even in 1980's France, people were that naive or blase.
This movie is Flament's personal story and it deserves to be taken at face value, but I'm personally wary of this present-day trend of portraying the teenage girls of the past (and apparently their mothers) as impossibly naive victims and all men back then as nothing but predatory rapists. I'd at least recommend also watching Catherine Breillat's "36 Fillette", a similar film made back in the 80's-era setting of this film, which gives a different, and in my experience more believable, portrayal of the sexual mores of this era.
Unterm Dirndl wird gejodelt (1973)
"The Erotic Adventures of Heidi"
If you have a thing for 1970's German sexploitation films (and I'm not sure why you would), you might find this particular entry mildly interesting. Most of the sex films of this era were of the "report" variety (most famously the "Schoolgirl Report" series) set in urban areas and "reporting on"/exploiting the "liberated" sexual attitudes and mores of the day. There was another parallel strain of German sex comedies, however, based on traditional folk tales and set in the Barvarian countryside or in rural mountainous areas. These "Barvarian sex comedies" hearkened back (well, sort of) to the Leni Riefenstahl "mountain films" that were popular in the pre-Nazi era. They include such titles as "Bottoms Up" and "Run, Virgin, Run". This film is interesting because it's kind of a COMBINATION of the "report" films and the Barvarian sex comedies. Obviously, it's a sexed-up, "adult" version of "Heidi", but it makes the traditional children's book heroine into a sexy teenage variation on one of the "Schoolgirl Report" vixens--i.e. her "erotic adventures" include getting grades from her male teachers without doing a whole lot of studying. But then she leaves for the Barvarian countryside to do farm work where she gets involved with a handsome local, a jealous bully, and a goofy guy who keeps pulling strange things out of his lederhosen (like a trout after he falls in the lake).
I kind of enjoy the Barvarian sex comedies because of the beautiful natural scenery of the German countryside. And I enjoy the "report" films for the beautiful natural scenery of German actresses like Gisela Schwartz, the lead in this one. It's a bit of a stretch to buy these twenty-ish actresses as actual teenage schoolgirls, but at least they don't tend to have the cellulite and stretch marks of a lot of the actresses in American sexploitation films of this era, nor the obviously fake breasts and tattoos that are ubiquitous in sex films today. Genuinely pretty girls running around au natural in beautiful alpine wilderness is always a winner, no matter how flat-out stupid the plot is or how painfully unfunny the naughtiness and bawdiness may be.
I have to admit I saw this film by accident on You Tube and it was MOS ("mit out sound") for some reason, but the soundtrack probably would have been in German anyway. I'm sure I missed a few of the more subtle plot points (ha, ha), but the more interesting aspects I mentioned previously came through just fine.
"One-sided" but insightful documentary on the Traci Lords scandal
This is a short, but interesting British-made documentary on 80's underage porn star Traci Lords. It is definitely rather one-sided since Traci herself refused to talk about her porn career for years (before completely glossing over it in her self-serving and sanitized autobiography). Without the participation of Traci herself, they mostly just interview her then-colleagues like Ginger Lynn, Amber Lynn, ex-boyfriend Tom Byron, and the ubiquitous, motor-mouthed Ron Jeremy. They are all obviously bitter, but surprisingly pretty fair to Lords. They also interview one of the vice cops who were chasing porno crews around back then trying to get them for "pandering" (Some of the more paranoid people think Traci Lords was a mole sent in by the authorities to wreck the industry).
It is interesting how little most people know about this scandal. Far from being the innocent "porn victim" she has often allowed herself to be portrayed as, Traci Lords got into porn using a fake ID that was so convincing it even fooled US customs agents, who issued her a US passport to pursue her porn career in Europe. She rose to great fame in the porno industry, and it was only conveniently AFTER she turned 18 that the truth came out. She then nearly destroyed the porno industry as they lost millions recalling all her tapes, and many people were threatened with long prison sentences. Meanwhile, her only "legal" XXX appearance was in her self-produced "Traci, I Love" made after she turned 18 and released in the wake of scandal. (You can at least UNDERSTAND the conspiracy theories. . .) What is more irksome (to me) is the way her "victim" status has allowed her to enjoy measured success in the "legitimate" Hollywood film industry whereas Ginger Lynn Allen (who went to jail, partly in retaliation for her refusing to testify for Traci) has been shunned--even though she was only a few years older than Traci. And if you think things have changed, look at how Sasha Grey, the latest porn starlet to attempt a legitimate career, is treated right here on her IMDb page. Get into porn at 16, you're an innocent victim, absolved of ALL moral responsibility, but get into porn at 18, you're branded for life as a shameless slut unworthy of legitimate employment.
Perhaps, the most controversial aspect of this documentary is that it contains underage nudity (although of course not graphic sex) of Traci in scenes from her porn career. But this also serves to show how PHYSICALLY indistinguishable she was from her slightly older contemporaries like Ginger Lynn, Amber Lynn, and Christy Canyon. One of the STUPIDEST things today is the way many confuse the natural attraction men feel towards 16 or 17-year-olds like Traci, who could easily pass for 25, with "pedophilia", which is an attraction to PREPUBESCENT children. Gee, if you're attracted to 25-year-old women, how could you NOT be attracted to physically mature teenage girls who LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME?
Though admittedly "one-sided", this documentary really puts this scandal in perspective, and it's a perspective that is often lost in the moral hysteria of today.
Locas vacaciones (1989)
Hard-to-find Hubert Frank sex /action film with a sexy, sexy Natalie Uher
A young French girl (Natalie Uher) is in love with her teacher. To get away from the situation, she decides to go on vacation to Portugal. But because of an airline strike, she opts to hitch a ride on the private plane of a wealthy, middle-aged jet-setter, who promptly drugs her, kidnaps her, and takes her to his villa in what is supposed to be North Africa (it looks like Reunion or the Canary Islands). It turns out he is not planning to sell her into white slavery (damn!), but wants to use her for a hare-brain scheme to seduce his own son, who has developed an "Oedipus complex" and run off with his step-mother (the rich man's wife). Of course, being the typical badly dubbed Euro-sexpot, our girl ends up seducing pretty much everybody, INCLUDING the step-mom. And just to complicate matters, the island is experiencing a revolt from third-world "revolutionaries" (who are unwashed, but strangely all-white), and they keep kidnapping our tres luscious heroine and tying her butt-naked to a stake and what-not. . .
Here's another softcore sex fantasy from the redoubtable (just try to doubt him only once!) Hubert Frank. Though less famous than other Euro-sex filmmakers of that era like Jesus Franco or Joe D'Amato, the German Frank is also much more underrated. Like a lot of Euro-sex filmmakers, he takes his softcore erotica to "exotic" and scenic locales, but he's also famous for including a lot of surprisingly competent action sequences (complete with impressive stunt-work and aerial plane and helicopter footage). I'm not personally a fan of softcore/actions films of American Andy Sidaris , but I think Sidaris fans would really appreciate the combination of sex/nudity and well-edited action scenes in Frank films. Frank also always adds a touch of the Jess Franco polymorpous perversity (the boy and stepmother)and the whip-lash inducing tone changes Joe D'Amato was famous for (like D'Amato Frank's films careen wildly from jolly to serious to downright appalling and back again). It's so much more interesting than the softcore sex films of today, which are five minutes of stupid story/exposition followed by ten minutes of boring sex. rinse and repeat, and no one ever leaves the San Fernando Valley condo because they're too cheap to get film permits!
With this particular film, Frank is also treading a little into David Hamilton territory in that his lead, the beautiful Natalie Uher, was (according to highly unreliable IMDb dates) only 16 at the time! But if this what a lot of 16-year-olds look like with their clothes off, then we should all just go voluntarily register as sex offenders and get it over with.(She looks a lot older than 16 to me though). Uher would go to appear in German "Playboy" and then become "Emmanuelle 6". She was a natural beauty who should NEVER have worn clothes. She wasn't much of an actress, but then it's hard to be when you're clumsily dubbed into English.
This one was pretty hard to find, but I'm glad I finally found it.
Bakku ga daisuki! (1981)
A surprisingly "feminist" Japanese "pink" film
This Japanese "pink" movie has a sexy but ridiculous premise involving a young girl who is trying to collect 100 "penis prints" (don't ask) from her sexual partners before her arranged marriage. Her "prey" is not famous celebrities or even good-looking or well-endowed guys, but up-and-coming business executives (only in Japan!). She of course has various misadventures. One guy doesn't wait for her to wipe the ink off before excitedly having sex with her. Another guy gives her a "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" in a dressing room before she can even get out her paper and ink blotter. The most ridiculous encounter involves a guy who has been "training" to have sex for 55 hours straight (beating my personal record by 54 hours and 45 minutes). Since she is trying to finish collecting 100 prints during a brief trip to Tokyo, you'd think this would at least slow her down a lot! Anyway the ending is quite funny and ironic. There is also a subplot where the ambitiously horny heroine meets a sexy lesbian couple who are plotting to get revenge on another vile male executive who tied up and, uh, shaved one of them.
This movie is a bit unusual among "pink" films in its nascent feminism. This plot wouldn't have been out of place in a Western sex film, but Japanese women were rarely portrayed as being this sexually aggressive back in 1981 (they were much more likely to be hapless rape victims). The fairly positive portrayal of lesbianism and female-on-male revenge and abuse plot are also different and refreshing. The lead Junko Ashanina is a definite asset to this movie, and she shows off her NICEST "asset" right in the opening scene when she bends over to get in a taxi while wearing a short skirt. Between that and the title, I'm surprised more of her paramours in the movie didn't end up giving it to her "from behind". This is pretty sexy and definitely worth watching for those who might prefer their "pink" fare less rough and more feminist.
Not for everyone, obviously
While I don't really want to defend this sub-par Japanese "pink" film, it is unfortunate when one of these films finds an audience that neither understands nor appreciates this genre. First off, people need to understand that films like this were SIMULATED. The sex is not real (and is highly stylized due to the Japanese aversion to pubic hair and genitalia), and the "rape" is certainly not real even if the Japanese actresses involved are far more talented your usual adult starlets. The elaborate rope-play was, by necessity, real, but the scene where the villain drips copious amounts of hot candle wax on the torsos of two women obviously was not.
These films are also FICTIONAL. There is, in Japan and other countries today, a small niche market within the AV (adult video) market of CONSENSUAL BDSM films where women (and sometimes men) are genuinely, but CONSENSUALLY, abused. Even these films though wouldn't hold much appeal for a genuine rapist or sexual sadist because they ARE consensual. But such a deviant would be even MORE disappointed in "pink" films which are fictional and simulated as well. Moreover, the "pink" films have much higher production values than even consensual BDSM videos today and were even backed by major Japanese studios like Nikkatsu and Toei. Clearly, they did not only appeal to sex deviants and perverts. Just like how not everyone (or really, anyone) who likes Hannibal Lector is into serial killing cannibalism, not everyone who likes films like this into real-life rape and non-consensual BDSM. There is a difference between fiction and and reality, between sex fantasy and reality, and even between fiction and sex fantasy.
A genuine problem with this particular "pink" film is it has a very anemic plot compared to a lot of the more artistic and accomplished "pink" films . A young teacher rescues a female student from a rapist and gets raped herself. A male colleague seems sympathetic in the aftermath of the rape, but soon becomes unhinged and kidnaps her and the student (when she comes looking for her). After that, the movie degenerates into a series of bondage and rape scenes and (literal) torture porn. The ending is both mean-spirited and perfunctory. It doesn't surprise me this leaves a bad taste in some people's mouths, even if frankly it doesn't hold hot candle wax to some of the truly disturbing "pink" films like "Lolita Vibrator Torture". This is not good and it's obviously not for everyone, but some reviews of it frankly read like me trying to review a Hollywood rom-com.
Un moment d'égarement (2015)
French re-make of "Blame It on Rio"?--well, not quite
There is a reason that some of the other reviewers have noted that the plot of this movie is very similar to the 1984 American film "Blame It on Rio". BOTH movies are remakes of a now largely forgotten 1977 French film with the same title as this one, "Un Moment d'engarement" ("One Wild Moment"). It is interesting though that the French are STILL making films like this, while the Americans wouldn't touch this subject today with a ten-foot pole. It's very doubtful older teenage girls have become more virginal since the 1970's and 1980's, and the idea that a sexual relationship between a younger person and an older person is ALWAYS "predatory" (provided the younger person is old enough to be sexually active in the first place)is a lot more debatable than it is often made out to be. Are sexually active teenage girls really a lot better off with an inexperienced guy "their own age" who doesn't even know how to successfully use a condom?
For me though it is pretty simple. There are A LOT of things that seem exciting and enticing in movies, but would be extremely foolish and probably disastrous to do in real life. I definitely wouldn't lie down on the train tracks and let a train pass over me, even though it seems exciting when they do it in movies, and by the same token, while I enjoy the fantasy of movies like this (or the two earlier versions), I certainly wouldn't do it in real life. I doubt even in real-life France that middle-age men routinely sleep with their friends' teenage daughters, but the French also just don't have the ridiculous puritanical hang-ups of Americans when it comes to anything having to do with S-E-X, and thank god for that.
For what it's worth, this version does make one concession to our more cautionary times. While the young actresses in the original "Un Moment d'engarement" and "Blame It On Rio" were both slightly underage themselves at the time like their characters, the actress here, Lola Le Lann, was actually about twenty, and ANY male of ANY age will find her VERY attractive as she frolics around completely naked in the surf. Ooh-la-la! I do think they should have switched the male roles and had the more mature and repressed Francois Cluzet get involved with his friend's daughter as opposed to the more youthful and "dangerous" Vincent Cassell. (That dynamic worked better in "Blame It On Rio" where the hapless Michael Caine had to deal with the volatile Joseph Bologna, who was trying to find the older man who slept with his daughter). Still this is a pretty entertaining and sexy movie, but definitely don't expect another American remake in this day and age.
Le feu sous la peau (1985)
Not bad for what it is
I have several minds about this movie. It has an excellent story (based on a French novel) involving a poor but handsome young rogue who worms his way into the wealthy family of a boorish school chum and seduces all the female members. But the material REALLY requires a stronger actor who can pull off charismatic and malevolent effectively. However, this movie is saddled with Kevin Bernhardt , a typical 1980's blow-dried pretty-boy with all the charismatic malevolence of a European C. Thomas Howell. Some of the other flaws are not necessarily the fault of the original filmmakers. Cheesy English dubbing NEVER helps a halfway serious movie, but a subtitled version of this movie is not currently available. There also seems to be some strange law that "erotic" movies MUST have a sub-Kenny G soft jazz score, but I can tell you that if this kind of horrid music swelled up every time people started having sex in real life, I personally would just stop doing it!
If you take this movie as sex movie though, as opposed to a serious drama, it is actually pretty effective. The female cast is superb. The very sexy Lydie Denier plays the bitter, wheelchair-bound older sister. Denier would eventually go to Hollywood where she was almost completely wasted in bad horror movies and American "erotic thrillers". Veteran Eastern European exploitation actress Eva Czemyrs plays the mother. She is both sexy and quite BELIEVABLE (for a change) as the middle-age mother of adult children (although frankly she is way too quickly and easily seduced by her son's friend). The never-to-be-seen-again Marie Bossee is effective as the whiny girlfriend of the rich kid, who the rakish protagonist seduces and abandons (literally) by the side of the road. Veronique Beguin is not entirely believable as the adolescent younger sister, but that was probably necessary since she has a very hot and quite perverse sex scene where the protagonist teaches her how to masturbate and takes racy nude pictures of her. It's certainly not boring as far as the sex goes!
You could certainly make a better, much more serious movie with this material, which is kind of a cross between "Dangerous Liasons" and "Boudou Saved from Drowning" (later re-made in Hollywood as "Down and Out in Beverly Hills"), but it does work well as a softcore sex film. Interestingly, one of the better "erotic thrillers" of the 1990's "Poison Ivy 3" (aka "Violet") was almost a verbatim re-make of this film, but with gender roles switched. The two films share an almost identical twist involving the family maid (the one sexy female here the protagonist does NOT seduce), but the European class-consciousness works better in this French movie, even if Jaime Pressley (the star of "Violet") is far more sexy and believably malevolent than Bernhardt. This obviously could have been better, but it's not bad for what it is
Kind of a weird South Korean cross between "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Lolita"
This South Korean movie is kind of a cross between "Lolita" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice", but much weirder than either. A young writer goes to a rustic, isolated mountain resort to work on a project, but becomes very distracted by the pretty young assistant of the owner. At first, he is secretly obsessed with her, crawling on the rusty roof of a tin shack to spy on her as she bathes, but eventually she reciprocates his attentions and they enter into a full-blown sexual pas de deux, which leads to an inevitable conflict with her brutish employer (who she is also sexually involved with).
The girl at first perversely appears to be a high-school age schoolgirl, but after the protagonist follows her to "school" one day, he finds out that things aren't as they seem. The girl eventually goes from a coquettish lolita to a Lana Turner-esque femme fatale, but she does not have the venal yet rational motives of a traditional femme fatale, but seems playing a much more sinister and psychotic game. The movie is also quite surreal. It has a dearth of dialogue (which is fortunate since the version I saw had no English subs) and a lot of weird and arresting imagery like an abandoned SUV in the middle of the deep woods. The narrative is very disjointed, elliptical, and time-disoriented. It may have been a mistake by the low-budget production, but there is no attempt at continuity as far as the weather goes. Scenes go back and forth between snowy winter and what looks like late spring, so much so that's it impossible to tell how long the writer is even at the cabin. But mistake or not, this only adds to the effectively disjointed, surreal atmosphere.
The movie is also genuinely erotic. It opens with a graphic male-on-female oral sex scene, but then slowly builds up the sexual tension for about an hour before ending with a lot more sex scenes, some of which are quite perverse (the employer checks if his young mistress has been faithful to him by pulling down her pants and sniffing her--a scene very similar to one in the novel "Lolita" that, not surprisingly, was never adapted in any of the movies). It's impossible to tell whether the actress (Je In Han) is 17, as she appears at the beginning, or closer to 30, as she looks by the end, but regardless she is very attractive and has numerous tantalizing nude/sex scenes. Of course, it's not all that hard to find a hot girl to do nude sex scenes, but very few of them are able to go through such impressive acting paces or appear in a movie that is nearly this interesting. Recommended.
Marion Cotillard is woefully miscast, but also the only reason to see this
This is a goofy French TV movie about a troubled teenage girl who runs away from home. After taking a train to the big city, she runs into a vicious pimp (a vicious WHITE pimp, of course), who forces her to do a and striptease for his friends at a bar, takes her virginity, and then turns her out to work the streets (beating and raping her when she is being uncooperative).
The main point of interest of this movie is future Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in the lead. She is quite good, but also VERY miscast. Even at the young age of 18 or 19, she was much too mature-looking and attractive to be very believable in the role of a hapless, naive teenager. There is a scene at the beginning where a male school chum makes a wager with her and another girl that if he lies on the tracks and allows a train to pass over him one of them will have sex with him. "Chloe" is upset when he chooses the OTHER girl, but frankly it beggars belief that ALL the guys in rural France would not all be throwing themselves under trains for a shot at this sumptuous beauty. And the belief beggaring continues when she falls for the seedy charms of a low-rent pimp and becomes a low-rent streetwalker later in the movie.
Frankly, the best reason to see this movie is the uninhibited nude scenes that Cotillard was wont to do early in her career. If you're a straight male, so much blood will no doubt be regularly flowing FROM your brain that you'll take the absurd plotting, unintentionally campy melodrama, and woeful miscasting completely in stride. Be warned though that the version playing of this on Amazon Prime has all the nude/sex scenes removed for god knows what reason (this is the same service that is currently streaming the notorious Hong Kong "category III" film "Red to Kill" totally uncut). There is really no good reason to watch this nonsense if you can't at least appreciate the wonders of Cotillard's nude form. Otherwise, you might as well just sit through a sanctimonious Lifetime movie on this subject (and in French to boot).
"Ice Cream with Two Scoops"
I expected this film to be a racy teen sex comedy along the lines of other early 80's fare like "Little Darlings", the German film "Boarding School", or the French film "Girls" (which is ALSO only currently available in a German dub with no English subtitles). But this is actually a film about a pair of sisters (Desiree Nosbusch and Valerie Dumas), whose parents are divorcing after their father leaves their mother for a younger woman, and who plot together to try to repair their fractured family. This is a more innocent "coming-of-age" movie that at times plays like a teenage, non-identical-twin version of "The Parent Trap", but it is also a fairly realistic film about growing up that probably MOST resembles other sweet and innocent French films like "Peppermint Soda" (also about two sisters) or the later French teen film "La Boum" (which they used to show a lot in French class in American high schools).
It does have some scenes that are perhaps not fit for a high school French class, like the topless skinny-dipping scene the other reviewer mentioned. But frankly this is nothing you wouldn't see today on a lot of European beaches (if you're the kind of pervert who goes there to ogle barely pubescent girls anyway). A lot of people (especially a lot of American people), make a big deal today about "underage nudity". But you're not going to get excited about seeing someone naked if you're not ALREADY attracted to them to begin with. And if you're really NOT attracted to them, some innocuous topless skinny-dipping shouldn't bother you. Besides, 18-year-old French beauty Valerie Kaprisky ALSO appears in the skinny-dipping scene, so I don't know why anyone would even be looking at the much younger Valerie Dumas.
German actress Desiree Nosbusch, who plays the older sister, meanwhile would go to appear in the much more graphic, scandalous, and genuinely disturbing German horror film "Der Trance" a year later. I'll freely admit to being perverted enough that I kinda wished THIS film was more of a racy teen comedy with Desiree Nosbusch and Valerie Kaprisky having a contest to see who could lose their virginity first (but that probably would have taken five minutes and ended in a tie). It's kind of ironic that French films are always accused of being sex-minded when actually most French teen films are sweet and realistic and simply take the eventual loss of virginity for granted while it is the American films that often regard it as a raunchy quest for the Holy Grail. The raunchiest thing about this is if you put the French title in Google translator, it comes up as "Ice Cream with Two Balls"!
This movie is paired with another Japanese rape-revenge film "Hitch-Hike" (evidently a re-make of the 1977 Italian roughie with David Hess) on Troma's recent "From Asia with Lust" DVD, This is unfortunate marketing though because this movie completely fails as a sexy "pink" film. But it is somewhat successful as a harrowing rape-revenge film a la "I Spit on Your Grave". It's quite different than the American rape-revenge classic though. Ironically, the American film it most resembles---with its mixture of black comedy, unsettling violence, and general weirdness--is "Mother's Day", a film directed back in the day by Charlie Kaufman, brother of Troma head-honcho Lloyd Kaufman.
This movie involves two feuding sisters, who are going camping and wind up at a deserted campground after a car accident. There they run into five sadistic creeps. The guys are not your usual sniggering, backwoods misogynist stereotypes though; they're all escaped mental patients with dangerous sexual fetishes that they indulge in with the two hapless girls. "Pyro" is an impotent pyrophiliac, who rapes women with his lighter. "Hypo", short for hypoxiphilia, is a giggling retard who gets off on depriving his partners of oxygen. "Necro", short for necrophilia, is the perfect guy to take "Hypo's" sloppy seconds. The less said about "Copro", short for coprophilia, the better (look the word up if you need to). "Thanatos, short for thanatophilia, is the only halfway sympathetic one, who longs only for his own death. The rape and abuse scenes are genuinely harrowing, and also somewhat disturbing and genuinely disgusting. But aside from some nice boob shots, they are definitely NOT erotic. This is pretty typical of American rape-revenge films actually, but it certainly isn't of the Japanese "pink" genre.
Unfortunately, the "revenge" scenes aren't so good. They're pretty perfunctory after the protracted rape and abuse scenes and involve the unnecessary intercession of a third female, a nurse from the mental asylum played by Japanese AV star Miyuki Yokoyama (ironically, the only actress who DOESN'T have any nude scenes). The movie tries to make a typical statement on the futility of violence, but it's a pretty ham-handed one. Still, the movie overall was worth watching I guess. But it wallows in wrath a lot more than lust.
Sin tetas no hay paraíso (2010)
Film adaptation of the long-running telenovela, but with a lot more emphasis on the "tetas"
Despite having a slightly different title, this seems to be a feature-film adaptation of the long-running Colombian telenovela "Sin Senos, No Hay Paraiso ("Without Breasts, There Is No Heaven"). The telenovela is much more well-known and popular in both Latin America and the US (where it is currently streaming on Netflix with English subtitles), but if you don't care for the never-ending, OTT melodrama of telenovela series and prefer a two-hour movie with a beginning, middle, and end, this might be the better way to go. (Also if you happen to be male and more interested in a lot of bared "tetas" than in soapy melodramatics. . .). This movie is similar to the telenovela in that it casts a number of VERY hot twenty-ish Columbian actresses from the middle and upper classes as younger teenage barrio-dwelling characters. So while it is an effective social commentary on the allure being a prostitute or drug moll holds for impoverished teenage colombianas, it ironically also glamorizes this same lifestyle quite a bit simply because the actresses involved are so attractive and sexually desirable.
The lead, Isabel Cristina Cadavid, is unbelievably sexy and adorable. She starts out as a uniformed schoolgirl (although she and her equally voluptuous friends look more like strippers dressed as schoolgirls). She then does a stint as bikini-clad beauty contestant. She draws the attention of local drug dealers and gets gang-raped, but continues to hang around these unsavory elements and is given as a "prize" to a major drug trafficker who has just gotten out of prison. She also has a nice-guy boyfriend on the side, even though both of them play around a lot with other people. And even though she has pretty much a perfect body to begin with, she is obsessed with getting a breast enlargement and "takes it out in trade" with the surgeon who performs the procedure. (Interestingly, the real actress seems to have gone through actual breast surgery for this movie unless these were very convincing special effects).
Unlike the telenovela, this movie does END, and you might suspect it's not going to end particularly well for a heroine who is often less-than-sympathetic and has pursued such an ill-advised lifestyle. It has an effective ending and it is a generally effective movie, even if a lot of the appeal admittedly is seeing Cadavid and her sexy friends half-naked or naked and involved in a various sexual situations.
Worth a look at least
I was interested to see this"faithful" Italian-made adaptation of the Marquis de Sades "Philosophy of the Boudoir" because, while I have seen several previous versions of this tale, they have pretty much all been directed by Eurocult/Eurooschlock director Jesus Franco (the best being the 1969 version with Marie Liljedahl, Maria Rohm, and Christopher Lee!). The Franco adaptations were all updated to the present day (circa the 1970's and 80's)and they leave out many of the principal interests of De Sade, namely his interest in libertine philosophy as well as libertine sex. The plot of "Philosophy" involves three jaded Sadean libertines--an older woman, her brother, and their foppish friend "Dolmance", who are "given" a naive young noble girl, Eugenie, by her father (who is a slavish lover of the libertine sister) in order to "educate" the young girl, both sexually and in their atheistic, libertine philosophy. This is actually the only version that focuses at all on the philosophizing, and it is naturally a lot less cinematically interesting than the sex.
Antonella Salvucci, who plays the female libertine, is very sexy and not a bad actress, but is not particularly well-suited for this role as she is probably not much older than 30 and not very believable as a jaded, older woman. Christian Stelluti, who plays a brother is a typical Italian pretty-boy who lacks the lust and wickedness to really make this role work. The actor who plays the bisexual "Dolmance", meanwhile, is flat-out annoying. He is more of a flaming, over-the-top homo stereotype than a believable bisexual and is only really effective in the sex scenes. (Perversely, Eugenie loses her "backdoor virginity" to the foppish Dolmance before she loses her actual virginity to the brother). He is as generally inappropriate in this role as Christopher Lee was in the 1969 Franco version, but for COMPLETELY opposite reasons.
Of course, the central role is the one of naive young heroine. Sara Sarti is very pretty both clothed and unclothed and she does a decent acting job, but she looks to be at least 25 and not appreciably younger than Salvucci's character, and she kind of overdoes it with the wide-eyed innocent act. Interestingly, in his most questionable adaption, "Eugenie" 1980, Jesus Franco cast an actual 14-year-old actress in this part, but that didn't work out too well either (don't expect to see a legitimate English-language release of that one anytime soon). Marie Liljedahl in the 1969 version was more of a happy medium--not as a good of actress as Sarti, but she at least LOOKED the part. But the best "Eugenie" was perhaps French actress Isild Lebesco in a fictional subplot of the French biopic "Sade", where she plays a Eugenie-like teenager from a noble family who the notorious historical figure HIMSELF is debauching both sexually and morally. As an actress, Sarti is second only to Le Besco in this role, but she is a very distant second.
Regardless, if you like your sexploitation strictly softcore with lots of pretty girls (and boys) and no small amount classy pretensions (and perhaps some small amount of genuine literary gravitas), this film is worth a look at least.
La notte dell'alta marea (1977)
A bit boring, but with beautiful scenery and beautiful actresses
An ad executive (Anthony Steele) is looking for a new female face, or actually, uh, ass for his new blue jeans campaign. He spots a young girl in a co-ed sauna (who first sees from behind and mistakes for boy!). The girl (Annie Belle) encourages him and sexually teases him, even though she already has a husband/lover, and he becomes smitten with her, even though he already gets plenty of sex from other young models (poor guy!). After various erotic misadventures, he goes with her, her boyfriend, a photographer, and another model (Pam Grier--yes, THE Pam Grier) to a scenic island where they become stranded, and jealousy and passions erupt (. . .well, sort of).
This has some elements of an Italian giallo, but it's like one directed by David Hamilton. It has a very anemic plot and a lot of interludes with awful music (and also, to be fair, some good music). The cinematography is very beautiful, but the editing and the pacing is positively glacial. The director Luigi Scattini was a questionable talent, mostly known for documentary/mondo films like the ridiculous "Sweden Heaven or Hell". He did one quasi-giallo called "The Body" with beautiful African actress Zeuda Aruya, which I recall as being equally beautifully filmed and slightly more exciting than this one. Scattini probably wanted to film another beautiful actress of African origin in a "native" island setting, but American blaxploitation star Pam Grier is not nearly as good when she's not doing her own voice and she literally has nothing to do here, but run around in a bikini.
Anthony Steele was the husband of Anita Ekberg ("La Dolce Vita"), but HE was perhaps most famous for "The Story of O", a much more well-known, but equally insipid piece of 70's "erotica". His acting is limited, but he has a good look as a world-weary, ennui-filled older man left unsatisfied by years of sexual over-indulgence. The main strength of this movie, however, is Annie Belle, a beautiful French actress with a trademark bleach-blonde pixie cut and an absolutely PERFECT post-adolescent body. She appeared in any number of Italian exploitation films and softcore erotica during this era , even supposedly writing the screenplay for one of them (the "autobiographical" film "Blue Belle" aka "The End of Innocence"), even though she was only 18 or 19 years old at the height of career. She burned out quickly and largely disappeared, but she did leave quite a mark. Anyway, her frequent nude scenes were about the only thing keeping me awake sometimes. She is sexier all by herself than the gaggle of teenage Euro-models David Hamilton usually cast in his own to exercises of virtually plot less cinematography, largely because she could actually ACT a lot better than she was ever given credit for. This film is pretty slow-moving and boring , but it's always very nice to look at thanks to the beautiful scenery and beautiful actresses.
About what you'd expect
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who doesn't regularly watch brain-dead Euro-sex films (and won't know what they're in for), but by the standards of that generally dim-bulb genre this is pretty OK. It's directed by German sexpolitation director Hubert Frank, who did the superior "report"-film "Unfaithful Wives" and the memorable "Emmanuele" knock-off "Vanessa" (both currently available on legitimate DVD). It also features French actress Anne Parillaud, who later found mainstream success in movies like "La Femme Nikita" and "Innocent Blood". Even in her more "respectable" efforts, brunette beauty Parillaud managed to have full-frontal nude scenes, so naturally she has even MORE of them here.
Her character, of course, is a complete nit-wit, a spoiled heiress who brags to the media that she keeps in shape by "making love". Her father doesn't approve of her lifestyle and hires a handsome adventurer to lure her away from her no-good fiancée. But after he unexpectedly dies, leaving her his entire estate, she begins to suspect that one of her two paramours along with some members of her goofball family may be trying to kill her. . .
This movie very much resembles "Vanessa". Instead of being spanked by nuns as Olivia Pascal is in that film, Parillaud's character at one point is chased half-naked through a monestary by horny monks and then hides topless in a confessional booth (much to the consternation of the father-confessor). There's also a similar incest thing going on with her family. Like "Vanessa", "Patrizia" has an extended and completely gratuitous lesbian scene with a blonde female cousin (named "Pussy"), who in turn has sex with another male cousin while someone is trying to drown "Patizia" in the surf. There's lots of other madcap adventures as Patricia gets rides by flashing her breasts, flies around in a stolen helicopter, and helps members of her family finance a hilariously cheap-ass sword-and-sandals movie. Of course, the whole thing is dumb as hell and mostly just an excuse to bare acres of female flesh (and no small amount of male flesh), but what else would you expect from movies like this. . ?
Umberto Lenzi's, um, unusual follow-up to "Cannibal Ferox"
Umberto Lenzi is perhaps most (in)famous for "Cannibal Ferox", a film that is not good maybe, but is certainly memorably brutal. This movie seems to have a similar plot with two Euro-idiots deciding to tour a Third World jungle where they encounter both a primitive tribe and vicious ruby smugglers. However, they also meet a lone teenage white girl (Sabrina Siani), who is living there for no apparent reason, and the movie becomes instead a throwback to the late 60's "female Tarzan" movies like "Luana", "Samoa", or "Tarzana". Although it was apparently filmed partly in the Dominican Republic (rather than a European zoo), this movie resembles the contemporary cheap-jack Eurocine/Jess Franco productions ("Cannibals", "Diamonds of Kilimanjaro") much more than it does the Italian cannibal epics. The "locals" seem to be a strange mixture of African and Asian, while I strongly suspect many of the "natives" are really white Europeans in grease-paint. To make matters worse, this is actually a comedy. Italian comedies are really an acquired taste (not unlike huffing paint thinner), but even by the standards of that inferior genre, this is pretty inferior.
Lenzi was fairly proficient at gialli and police thrillers (i.e. "So Sweet, So Perverse", "Almost Human"), but he demonstrates no aptitude whatsoever for screwball comedy. The male characters are all incredibly annoying, but it's hard to know whether to blame the Italian actors or the talentless idiots responsible for dubbing them into English. Then there's barely legal Euro-model Sabrina Siani, who had a great body, but absolutely no idea how to use it. It wasn't that she was a bad actress so much as that she was simply NOT an actress. She never really made any attempt to act, just letting her pert young breasts and her post-adolescent derrière do it all for her. Unlike someone like Edwige Fenech, who was a genuinely talented actress, or Gloria Guida, who was definitely serviceable, Siani doesn't manage to pull off either funny OR sexy here. Her body is the only thing she (or this entire movie) has going for it.
If you're tempted to see this, I would recommend instead Franco's "Cannibals" (also with Siani) or "Diamonds of Kilimanjaro" (with Katja Bienert). Both movies are much more unintentionally funny than this movie is intentionally, and most of the annoying cast in those gets devoured by bloodthirsty cannibals.
Die Berührte (1981)
No Mercy and No Future
This is an interesting and often harrowing film about the travails of a female mental patient. Although she is from a comfortable, wealthy family, "Veronika" (Elisabeth Stepanek) suffers from religious delusions and terrifying hallucinations and finds herself constantly taken advantage of by various men. The genesis of the movie is supposedly a letter the real-life character wrote to the director, asking him "to tell her story". This is not some nice, tidy TV movie on the subject of mental illness though. It does not offer any easy resolutions (as the chilling English-language title suggests). The hallucinatory imagery is strong, and the heroine's various suicide attempts and institutionalizations are played for maximum effect. There are also several strong sex scenes like when she has a sexual encounter with a dim-witted Ghananian immigrant she just met after having a recent abortion and she starts bleeding all over the place, which neither partner really reacts to. Anyway, don't ever expect to ever see this one on the Lifetime Channel!
The one thing that did kind of annoy me is that I wasn't sure at times if the character was supposed to be a paranoid schizophrenic or a crazed nymphomaniac. This often reminded of the 70's Christine Lindberg exploitation film "Anite, Swedish Nymph" (which I suspect was later an inspiration for Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac"). It's not surprising a pretty female schizophrenic would get taken advantage of sexually, but it's sometimes a bit much here. It's not hard to believe someone suffering from religious delusions might think a paraplegic she meets is Jesus Christ,for instance, but would she then turn around and give him a bj on an elevator five minutes later? (Who does THAT after meeting "Jesus"?) Her promiscuity is not treated in an exploitative manner by any means, and the actress Stepanek gives a very brave performance, spending much of the movie spiritually, emotionally, or physically naked, but they do perhaps play up the lurid sex angle too much for a serious movie.
Still, overall, this is an effective movie with strong imagery and powerful performances. I would recommend it.
Russkaya Lolita (2007)
Basically a Russian porno parody of a great novel
In 1957 Vladimir Nabokov wrote "Lolita", which is now regarded by many as the second greatest English-language novel of the 20th century (after "The Great Gatsby"). But Nabokov was also Russian emigrant, who was a very well-regarded novelist in his own country and his own language before he was chased out of Russia by the Communists and out of Europe by the Nazis. English-language filmmakers have struggled to adapt his brilliant but controversial novel over the years. The great Stanley Kubrick was not entirely successful, and the hack Adrian Lyne probably shouldn't have tried. So it seems encouraging that Russia might attempt to reclaim a native son and one of the great Russian authors by doing their own adaptation of "Lolita". This movie unfortunately though is pretty much a travesty.
I have to cast around to find anything good to say about this. It does put back in the sex that the earlier adaptations were (understandably) quite coy and circumspect about, but the problem is it takes out pretty much everything else and turns the whole thing into basically a softcore porn film. The whole narrative of the book is largely dispensed with so that it is reduced to just a ridiculous sex fantasy about a male lodger who comes to room with a widow and her young daughter and has a whole lot of sex with both of them. The end.
Before anyone gets too worked up though, the young "Lolita" in this version (called "Alice" here) is not the 12-year-old girl in the novel or even the more mature 15-year-old actresses that played the part in the two movies (Sue Lyon and Dominique Swain). The actress here, Valeria Nemchenko, when she loses her pig tails and baby-doll dresses, is obviously about 20, so this is not so much unwholesome as it is just, boring and pointless. Yeah, Nemchenko is quite attractive, and most males probably won't mind watching her have sex, but she literally does so for at least 30 minutes of the running time. There are also some graphic sex scenes with the mother, Olga (Marina Zasimova), who unfortunately looks a lot more like Shelley Winters (from the Kubrick movie) than Melanie Griffith (from the Lyne). And suffice, it to say that, like with most softcore porn, once the sex scenes start they just don't stop right up until the ending, which is both unbelievable and unbelievably stupid. This is pretty much just a porno parody of the great novel.
It's 3AM, do you know who your kids are doing?
With even theatrical French films being largely financed by television these days, it's perhaps not surprising so much modern French cinema is devoted to "social problem" films like this. Although this is allegedly based on a true story, I don't know that middle-class teenagers engaging in wild sex orgies is really all that widespread of social problem even in France (although I'm sure a lot of horny male teenagers probably WISH it was a widespread social problem). More likely this was a "man-bites-dog" story that got attention from the French media because it was UNUSUAL, not because it was necessarily typical of what a lot of French teens are up to these days.
Still, if this were an American film, it would undoubtedly be either much more alarmist or much more exploitative (or perhaps both in the case of something like Larry Clark's "Kids"). This film, however, remains fairly non-judgmental and realistic. Its three protagonists--a shy male musician and two girls who get played by the same smooth-talking "player"--are realistic and sympathetic, even if the background given of their problems and their home-life doesn't really account for why they would become juvenile swingers. But I suppose teenagers don't necessarily need any more excuses to be sexually promiscuous than adults do.
It's probably not a coincidence that there are a lot more French films about middle-class teenage or college students who become prostitutes ("Student Services", "Young and Beautiful") or all decide to get pregnant ("17 Filles") or engage in sex orgies like this then there are about teenagers who do their homework, generally listen to their parents, and are focused on getting into a good university. Still, this film is not nearly as exploitative as it COULD be. There is a fair amount of nudity (actually more male than female), but it's not all that shocking since all the actors look at least five years too old to actually BE teenagers. (They're all pretty attractive too in the naturalistic French way). Still, I miss the more old-style French films that are more arty and/or literary and personal and are focused on singular characters as opposed to "real", but frankly also quite boring, people.
La puce (1999)
The debut film of the remarkable French actress Isild Lebesco
This thesis film (a long "short" at 40 some minutes) by actress/director Emmanuelle Bercort is startling UNoriginal in concept as far French cinema goes. A bratty 14-year-old girl meets an older man while on vacation at the beach. Later they hook up in his Parisian apartment, and after several false starts, he "makes her a woman". Even given that this was directed by a female and told decidedly from the point of view of the girl still makes this stereotypically French. Gallic feminist director Catherine Breillet has pretty much made this exact film at least three times with "Une Vrai Jeune Fille", "36 Fillete", and "To My Sister (Fat Girl)". At least Bercort can't be considered guilty of holding any double-standards since she also later directed and starred in the feature "Clement" where she herself plays a middle-aged woman who seduces a teenage boy.
The cinematography of this film is interesting. It's shot on highly de-saturated color stock that almost approaches black and white at times. Visually the beach scenes at the beginning of the film are stronger than the bulk of the film that takes place in a cramped Paris apartment. But the most interesting part of the film, both visually and otherwise, is the amazing and beautiful young French actress Isild Le Besco. Isild is the less famous younger sister of director/actress Maiwenn Le Besco, who married Luc Besson as a teenager, and though she's principally a middle-aged director nowadays, still seems to send male film critics into paroxysms of lust, even at press conferences for her films. Well, more people really ought get a load of her SISTER, who has equally exotic, but strangely different, looks (Maiwenn looks like a voluptuous man-eater, Isild like a shy, sensitive girl next door) and an absolutely stunning body that, unlike her older sister, she has not been the least bit shy about showing off every centimeter of in her movies. She was only about 16 or 17 in this (her debut) role, but she is pretty much the Platonic ideal of the pretty, sexually precocious teenage girl. And watching her character get slowly deflowered, even in a tame and arty short with only brief nudity, is really memorable.
Of course, Le Besco's assured ACTING even at this young age is also quite impressive. She doesn't come across so much as an emerging talent as an already formidable one that has seemingly sprung fully-formed from the womb. This was Bercourt's debut film and calling-card as a director, but it is Isild Lebesco who really owns it.
Not an entirely unpleasant way to pass 90 minutes
This phantasmagorical French horror movie is about a young college student who is dealing with troubling memories of her past by studying Freud and experimenting with "lucid dreaming". When her maternal grandmother dies, she joins her mother in her grandparent's country estate where she uses her lucid dreaming skills to uncover dark family secrets.
This film somewhat reminded me of the Walerian Borowzyk film "La Bete", but without the shocking imagery or nearly as strong of a grasp of Freudian surrealism. The "Horsehead" monster that haunts the dreams of the heroine may be the literal embodiment of a "nightmare" (or "cauchemare" in French), but horses are such magnificent and beautiful animals that it's hard to make them look too frightening or threatening. The weird imagery and occasionally effective atmosphere of this film is somewhat of a throwback to an earlier era, and it is refreshing in an age where "horror" is often synonymous with tons of gory effects, "torture porn", and shot-on-video "found-footage" bullsh*t. But the images, while pretty and colorful, are a little pedestrian and frankly just not all scary.
The movie does get a lot of mileage out of pretty, young French actress Lily-Fleur Pointeaux. I think at least half the audience will be very favorably disposed to scenes where she luxuriates in a bathtub with her magnificent breasts bobbing and glistening (bobbing and glistening. . .). But she also does a decent job carrying the principal weight of this movie, especially considering I've only previously seen her in small supporting roles in films like "Ma Premiere Pas" and "We Need a Vacation".
This film could have used some stronger and perhaps more shocking imagery like "La Bete" or the more recent French/Belgian film "Amer", but it's not an entirely unpleasant way to pass 90 minutes.
A worthwhile homage to a bygone type of film
This is not a movie I would recommend to EVERYONE, but a certain kind of viewer would definitely enjoy it immensely, mostly those that are already familiar with the colorful, psychological (and very Freudian) mystery-thrillers popular in Continental Europe in the 1960's and early 70's--movies like "The Frightened Woman", "Girl on a Motorcycle", "La Piscine", "All the Colors of Darkness", "Footprints on the Moon" and even UK/American films like "Repulsion" or "Psycho" fit in here a little. These films all are based on the old-fashioned idea of women as hysterical, mentally unstable creatures who are both easily manipulated by others and never too far from a complete psychotic break. Most of these films are regarded somewhat ironically today by their fans (like myself), but, of course, the irony in this movie is completely intentional, just like the nostalgia factor. The nostalgia meanwhile will no doubt appeal not just to fans of this long ago genre, but also to people who enjoyed other recent Euro films that pay homage to this era like the "OSS 117" films and the romantic French comedy "Populaire" (also a tale about tres sexy French secretary in pre-woman's lib days).
I won't rehash the plot, but this is a fairly effective thriller that really keeps the audience guessing about whether the protagonist is hysterically crazy or is being manipulated by others. Like the original films, it has a strong visual style, also very reminiscent of the recent French giallo homage "Amer", but not quite as over-the-top in its non-linearity and hallucinatory visuals. The lead Freya Mavor is a very strong asset. She's not necessarily believable as a mousy secretary at the beginning, because even in her more "repressed" guise she's sexy as all hell. But the same can be said of all the femmes that originally played these beautiful head-case roles--Catherine Deneuve, Edwige Fenech, Barbara Bouchet--or the modern-day actress Deborah Francoise, who played the "shy", sexed-up secretary in "Populaire".
The rest of the cast is mostly male and suitably either creepy and sinister or charming and sinister. Most notable is who plays the protagonist's handsome boss at the "Mad Men"-type ad agency where she works . His younger wife, who was a former colleague of the protagonist before she married the boss, meanwhile is played by Staci Martin from "Nymphomaniac". The only thing this movie is missing frankly is a gratuitous lesbian scene between them (which wouldn't have been gratuitous at all since these movies are all ABOUT style over substance). I doubt anyone will be too disappointed though because Mavor herself is certainly sexy enough for one movie and spends most of the film modeling various abbreviated fashions of the day or appearing in various stages of undress (and in one very hot sex scene).
Of course, there are many people who are perfectly fine with the fact that they don't make films like this anymore (even in France). But nevertheless as an homage to very different era, and a very different kind of filmmaking, this is certainly a worthwhile effort