Like its protagonist, this once-censored film is both ambitious and emotionally stunted.
A once-revered veteran of French erotica, filmmaker Jacques Laurent (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is no longer capable of delivering the professional goods. Having toiled on the fringes of legitimate cinema since the seventies, Jacques discovers he has become a relic in an adult film industry committed to cranking out porn on a schedule, though he lends his experience to contemporary hucksters whenever he needs an infusion of cash. But instead of Jacques’ sensual touches,
Today's producers demand a rigid pattern of "money" shots that any hack could provide, and he's estranged from his moralistic son, Joseph (Jeremie Renier), who can't accept what his father does for a living. Jacques himself is having trouble justifying his livelihood. While Joseph promotes political change within his university student body, Jacques recoils from protests and causes. When Joseph brings up the student riots of 1968, Jacques admits he was unfazed by the revolution. When a journalist suggests to the director that porn can erode loving relationships, he takes no responsibility. As Joseph and his campus radicals try to stir the apathy of their peers, Jacques nurses a pipe dream of being a country squire. Throughout his life, Jacques has shied away from risking anything for his art or for his personal life. Unemotional about his first failed marriage, Jacques cuts his losses when his second marriage disintegrates, and when he declares ruefully that "we live in joyless times, and it is also our fault,” it seems sadly obvious that he's never going to do anything about it.
Filmmaker Bertrand Bonello pointedly shoots Jacques’ on-location sex scenes in a mechanical way that de-eroticizes the X-rated content. But Bonello also keeps the audience at such a remove that it's difficult to empathize on any level with his anti-hero’s detachment.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: Like its protagonist, this once-censored film is both ambitious and emotionally stunted. A once-revered veteran of French erotica, filmmaker Jacques Laurent (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is no longer capable of delivering the professional goods. Having toiled on… (more)