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  Choses Secretes Sex Is Power
Year: 2002
Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Stars: Coralie Revel, Sabrina Seyvecou, Roger Mirmont, Fabrice Deville, Blandine Bury, Olivier Soler, Viviane Théophildès, Dorothée Picard, Pierre Gabaston
Genre: Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shy Sandrine (Sabrina Seyvecou) works in a high class strip club, as a cloakroom assistant and bartender, but she wishes she could do better in life. She admires one of the dancers, Nathalie (Coralie Revel), and as coincidence would have it their obnoxious boss fires them both on the same night, leaving them sitting by the road wondering what to do next. Nathalie is the more worldly of the two and suggests they retire to her apartment, so that's what they do, settling down for the evening with a drink or four and chatting. Sandrine asks her new friend if she's ever turned on while stripping, and admits she could never do it because she'd be too embarrassed. However, with Nathalie's influence, she will soon shed her inhibitions...

Choses Secretes, or Secret Things to translate its title, begins as a straightforward soft porn film, indeed the opening scene features Nathalie performing her act with no explanation or introduction whatsoever. By the time the women are in the apartment, helpful Nathalie has guided Sandrine to her first orgasm, and it looks like it'll be softcore sex all the way. Yet writer and director Jean-Claude Brisseau has another agenda, making this what might on the surface be an erotic thriller with a European flavour turn out to be an ever so slightly wild-eyed and pretentious look at morality.

For the first twenty minutes Brisseau has the viewer believing that he has started as he means to go on, as his heroines, who have moved in with each other, decide that being nobodies on the social scale is not the place they want to be, and the best way of getting power is to sleep their way to the top. After a spot of lesbian coupling in a railway station - I suppose Sandrine has to explore her new found sexuality somehow - they dress to impress and get jobs in the same firm, although not in the same department, Nathalie securing a better position as a P.A.

They have to find a victim to set their ambitious sights on, and while we don't discover who Nathalie is after for a while, Sandrine gets to know her boss, Mr Delacroix (Roger Mirmont) well, all the while pretending to be hurting from a recent and unhappy love affair. The plans work like a dream and soon Sandrine has led him on to forget his wife and family and be obsessed with her. In a Hollywood film perhaps there would be a sense of gloating here, with the rich businessman brought low by the scheming seductress, but here there's a growing feeling of sadness, because Delacroix suffers genuine, loving emotions for his mistress that she can barely understand.

The real prize is Christophe (Fabrice Deville), the son of the soon to be expiring head of the company, who has a reputation of being a cad but after her recent successes Sandrine thinks she can bring him to heel. Meanwhile, she breaks Delacroix's heart by pretending to have a lesbian affair with Nathalie, making sure he catches them in the act, then demanding that Nathalie get a job in their office as her assistant. It's a battle of the sexes all the way, but will they have met their match in Christophe? Brisseau lets each side gain the upper hand, but appears to favour the women as victims of the men, even if the emotionally wounded women have to take drastic measures in the end. That said, there's a definite absurdity to the way the story pans out and flies over the top (not least because of the blaring classical music) that makes you consider whether Brisseau's tongue may be in his cheek or if he is perfectly serious. Music by Julien Civange.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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