Dir/scr: Martin Laroche. Canada. 2012. 89mins
French Canadian film Fair Sex (Les manages humains) is an intriguing and at times powerful faux-documentary about a woman facing the harrowing implications of genital mutilation, ad while driven by a strong series of performances it ends up taking itself way too seriously, with festival exposure the only likely route for this stylishly mannered film.
The moving central point of the film comes when looks directly into the camera and movingly talks about what happened to her as a child.
A haunting and elegant lead performance by Marie-Evelyne Lessard as Sophie, a young woman who underwent genital mutilation in Africa at the age of four and since immigrated to Quebec, is the beating heart and soul of the film, but her strong acting can only help the film so far. Fair Sex had its world premiere in the Forum of Independents section of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
The film opens with Sophie, who has graduated with a degree in film and has a summer job with a travelling amusement park, being asked by her boss to make a short video about the amusement park. And given that Fair Sex is a classic indie film, it comes as no surprise that Sophie speedily starts turning the film on herself and her friends and encourages all around her to reveal pasts, secrets and deep-rooted emotions.
As she gradually falls for fellow amusement park worker Frederic (Marc-Andre Brunet), Sophie addresses the issues – both physical and emotional – she has in terms of having penetrative sex with him. The moving central point of the film comes when looks directly into the camera and movingly talks about what happened to her as a child.
Just as dramatic is when, shortly after her too-camera revelations, she approaches bemused middle-aged co-worker Normand (Normand Daoust) to be the one who ‘de-flowers’ her. Her reasoning is that she doesn’t want the man she loves to have to be the one to cause such pain and anguish.
These central dramatic moments give the film a sense of gripping emotion that the rest of Fair Sex lacks, with writer/director Martin Laroche’s use of Sophie’s hand-held camera the rather clumsy and less than original way of viewing proceedings a little wearing after a while.
Production companies: Productions Sisyphe, K-Films Amerique
Sales contact: F-Films Amerique, www.kfilmsamerique.com
Producer: Martin Laroche
Cinematography: Felix Tetreault
Editor: Catherine Legault
Music: Thomas Hellman
Main cast: Marie-Evelyne Lessard, Marc-Andre Brunet, Normand Daoust, Stephanie Dawson, Alexandre Dubois, Michel Vezina, Alexandre Castonguay