**.5 BM
Starring: Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand


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I had heard this movie was 'controversial' and that it was 'sexually explicit.' I also read that the writer and director, Catherine Breillat, wrote the script for this film partially because she was pissed off that people had told her she'd gone too far with her last film, "Parfait Amour!," and she wanted to show them what going too far really was. I didn't see the last film, but this is goes farther than it. Hands down. Dollars to donuts. Shimmy shimmy to coco bop. French art film to stupid American idiot.

The story is that Marie (Caroline Ducey) is a girl in Paris who isn't getting enough action from her boyfriend, Paul (Sagamore Stévenin). Paul is a pretty selfish guy who only wants what's comfortable for him - including limited contact with his girlfriend and the freedom to go around ignoring her and flirt with everybody, obsessed with 'the chase.' For some reason, Marie can't just dump the idiot. So she goes out to find some satisfaction outside the relationship. First up, pick someone up in a bar, wax philosophical about sex and penises, detail about how she wants no intimacy at all, and then get scrogged. Then she goes to work teaching elementary school kids lessons that just happen to relate to her life, sorta.

Next up for bids is the principal of said school, Robert (François Berléand), who also happens to be really into bondage and explaining that he's bagged 10,000 women even though he's ugly, just because he talks to them. So Marie gets into an extended bondage relationship with this guy.

Then comes the random encounter in the hallway with Monsignor Strange Jerk. Her huge desire is to be treated like a piece of meat by a stranger, so she lets him go at her. As she starts to feel more happy with her sexuality, Paul notices and then decides to have sex with her once. She gets pregnant. They have a kid. Paul doesn't change. Nice and healthy relationship.

There are plenty of disturbing moments in this film. Lots of penis handling for all you queasy types out there that don't like to see the dongs. Some really uncomfortable extended bondage sequences, and a very unpleasant scene on the gynecologist's table (perhaps ignorant men should see this just to have a greater respect for what women go through during a checkup). The crown jewel of disgusting moments is the extreme close-up of the child being born. Yes, it's a very natural thing and it's beautiful in a sense... but there's a REASON I don't watch the surgery channels on cable.

Perhaps this film was intended to make easily-nauseated guys like me queasy. A line in the film actually states that 'men are easily disgusted,' and I proved Breillat right. It's supposed to be an examination of sexuality from the female point of view, and I suppose women would not be as put off by the visuals here as I wound up being. But it's not just birth that I don't want to see up close - I can't handle watching open heart surgery, or anything that reminds me that I'm actaully just a fleshy bag of guts. That's a reason why I despised all those horror movies that were big when I was younger.

There's something to be said for graphic imagery, but a lot of the message of the film was overshadowed by it here. At least for me.

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