Sexus

Two men kidnap a young woman from a city street and spirit her away to an isolated country house, where they're joined by a third thug and a disaffected young woman. They await a call from their boss, who finally telephones and advises them that he'll meet them at the house at four. If he's not there by then, they should kill the girl and leave. As the...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Two men kidnap a young woman from a city street and spirit her away to an isolated country house, where they're joined by a third thug and a disaffected young woman. They await a call from their boss, who finally telephones and advises them that he'll meet them at the house at four. If he's not there by then, they should kill the girl and leave. As the guys sit around and squabble, we gradually learn who they are: Blackie (Alain Tissier, who bears a slight resemblance to the young Alain Delon), high-strung Frankie (Willy Braque) and Carl (Yves Buffaut), the nastiest of the group. The girl (Annie Jasse) is with Frankie, and the kidnap victim is Virginia (Virginia de Solenn), a wealthy heiress. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, Virginia tries to escape, the crooks grow increasingly nervous and distrustful of one another, and eventually two of them wind up dead. Then the action suddenly jumps to a club, where two girls — a voluptuous blond and a boyish, shorthaired brunette — are doing an S&M-tinged floor show. The big boss is hanging out there with his cronies, and learns from Frankie's girl what's been going on at the farmhouse. Virginia, meanwhile, has seduced Blackie by reading to him from a volume by the Marquis de Sade, and while the boss decides what to do, they engage in arty post-coital conversation about fate. A cult favorite among connoisseurs of arty European sexploitation, Moroccan-born writer/director Jose Benazeraf has been called the "Godard of porn" (and, less grandiloquently, the grand master of French erotica); this film is an excellent introduction to his early work. The minimal dialogue, artistically fragmented sex scene and portentously distorted shots of the wall clock ticking off the minutes until Virginia is supposed to be killed are the stuff of sexy-art-movie parodies. But the film is stunningly photographed in high-contrast black and white and features a gorgeous original score by doomed jazz icon Chet Baker. And while the opening "mistress and French maid" strip sequence (which is reprised at the end) looks as though it was inserted to pad out the running time, the lengthy S&M strip scene is clearly integral to the film (more or less) and is strikingly well staged and shot. A fascinating artifact.

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