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  Exterminating Angels, The Oh La La!
Year: 2006
Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Stars: Frédéric van den Driessche, Maroussia Dubreuil, Lise Bellynck, Marie Allan, Sophie Bonnet, Raphaële Godin, Margaret Zenou, Jeanne Cellard, Virginie Legeay, Estelle Galarme, Marine Danaux, Apolline Louis, François Négret, Christophe Maillard
Genre: Drama, Sex, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: François (Frédéric van den Driessche) is a French film director who wakes up in bed one night on the eve of commencing auditions for his next project, convinced that he must go and see his grandmother. But as his wife lying beside him in bed sleepily points out, his grandmother has been dead for ten years, though that doesn't stop him seeing a vision of the old lady as she warns him to be careful on this new production. Although the apparition worries François, he presses ahead with the auditions, but they take a very specific form...

And some would view that form as outright hardcore pornography, for the director Jean-Claude Brisseau, who had made his stock in trade what he would have preferred to call erotica, appeared to be trying to explain himself. The reason he was doing that was on his previous film, Choses secrètes, he had been arrested for sexual harrassment once it had been completed by two actresses who accused him of inappropriate behaviour during their auditions, as he had requested they perform sex acts for his camera. He was given a fine and suspended sentence, but evidently that gave him an axe to grind for this, the follow-up.

So the François character was the Brisseau surrogate as the whole work quickly became a long excuse in the form of him blustering "But it's art!" as he continued to film actresses in the altogether for the benefit of his story. Or that's what he wanted you to think, as after a dose of this you may be pondering that he doth protest too much, and if he was a little more honest about his reasons for turning the audience on, and presumably his good self also, he might not have gained the reputation of a dirty old man luring innocent actresses into going farther than they would have liked for the sake of the movies.

On the other hand, you could observe that Brisseau was being more honest than many gave him credit for, as he did appear genuine in his endeavours to get to the heart of the mysteries of female sexuality, even if it did look as if he was creating his own sexual fantasies for the amusement of those willing to indulge him. François asks various women to masturbate for his camera, and some of them agree, but all the way through he insists this is a serious investigation. He quickly discovers that involving others in your sexual fantasies is a far more complex activity than he reckoned, particularly when you cannot divorce those feelings from the emotions of the participants.

This didn't stop Brisseau from filming at least two extended sequences where two, then three, women take part in a lesbian encounter, and gets away with an awful lot as these parts are essentially hardcore porn interludes, though men rarely make an appearance into this world - apart from François, of course, and his camera. To add to the pretensions there are the two angels of the title watching unseen, and commenting on how misguided he is while orchestrating his eventual downfall, but the overall impression here was less any piercing psychological insight and more Brisseau throwing up his hands and declaring "Women! They're crazy!" There was a certain hubris to this in that the director was feeling very sorry for himself, but unrepentant, as if it was those actresses' fault for not recognising his sincere intentions to delve into his subject. It certainly didn't make for much of a story, but if you liked that arty excuse to watch girl on girl action, this provided it. Music by Jean Musy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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