Dir/scr: Yann Gonzalez. France. 2013. 92mins
Veering between bizarrely amusing and beguilingly sensuous, Yann Gonzalez’s self-consciously surreal sexual-drama is a film of mixed pleasures with its camp silliness not quite managing to get the better of its rather leaden moments of pretention. An easy fit into LBGT festival programming, it is a tough sell into mainstream cinemas, though the sight of former football star Eric Cantona sporting a large prosthetic penis could help with publicity.
It is all a bit mannered and contrived, and filmed with no great sense of pace, logic or urgency, but there are moments to remain in the memory.
There is a whole lot of style involved as well as a lot of acting-by-posturing and making of statements (rather than delivering developed lines), and while there is much talking about sex, very little actually happens in terms of rampant sexuality. But in amidst all of the silliness, Gonzalez’s art house intensity gives the film a modest edge.
The backdrop of the film seeks to rack up the sexual intensity from the start. Ali (Kate Moran, who has starred in three shorts for Gonzalez) and eye-patched Mathias (Niels Schneider, who starred in Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats) are planning an orgy, with the enthusiastic assistance of their transvestite maid Udo (Nicolas Maury).
Inside their stark apartment, the trio await the arrival of their four guests - the Slut (Julie Bremond), the Teen (Alain Fabien Delon), the Stud (Eric Cantona) and the Star (Fabienne Babe). As each arrive there is much kissing and caressing before they get a chance to talk about their own backstories, allowing Gonzalez to indulge in a series of fantasy sequences that takes the film outside the sterile apartment.
It is all a bit mannered and contrived, and filmed with no great sense of pace, logic or urgency, but there are moments to remain in the memory…not least in the Stud’s memory scene that sees him stripped to his underwear by a whip-wielding police chief (a cameo from Beatrice Dalle). There is a sense that there is much potential in Gonzalez’s feature debut, but here he is just trying too hard when a little bit of artistic restraint could have ben useful.
Production companies: Sedna Films, Garidi Films, Mezzanine, La Vie est Belle Films, Ostinato Films, Acis Prod., CNC
International sales: Films Boutique, www.filmsboutique.com
Producer: Cecile Vacheret.
Cinematography: Simon Beaufils
Editor: Raphael Lefevre
Production designer: Sidney Dubois
Mai cast: Kate Moran, Niels Schneider, Nicolas Maury, Eric Cantona, Fabienne Babe, Julie Bremond, Alain Fabien Delon, Beatrice Dalle