L'Ennui Review

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A Parisian professor becomes sexually enslaved by a monosyllabic teenager.


The current French obsession with copulation continues in this latest offering from the director of Bar Des Rails and Trop De Bonheur. But, unlike Catherine Breillat in Romance, Cedric Kahn is less concerned with shocking the complacent than in exploring the central theme of Alberto Moravia's source novel, that the point of sex is not procreation or pleasure, but power.

Still morose after the break-up of his marriage and suffering from writer's block, Martin (Berling) wanders into the studio of the ageing artist (Kramer) he has bailed out of a Pigalle sex club the night before, only to encounter his grieving teenage mistress, Cecilia (Guillemin). Initially baffled by how such an unprepossessing kid could have enslaved so cultured a man, Martin is soon besotted with her, too.

Although he first relates his experiences to his ex-wife (Dombasle) with vengeful glee, he's soon dependent on her, also, for solace in his miserable fixation, as his frustration at failing to manipulate Cecilia outside the bedroom turns to manic jealousy as she proves able to separate their vigorous couplings from her burgeoning friendship with a black actor (Tom Ouedraogo).

Resisting the temptation to surrender the numerous sex scenes to the voyeurs, Kahn turns each functionally depicted screw into a desperate act of carnality that Cecilia enjoys, but Martin needs. As the philosopher who has almost eradicated sensibility from his life, Berling expertly combines curiosity, lust and despair as he loses control of his intellect. But it's Sophie Guillemin who provides the truer portrayal, with a display of dispassionate adolescent volition that is almost capricious in its innocence.

his is a debut as remarkable as Sandrine Bonnaire's in Maurice Pialat's A Nos Amours, which this film, in many ways, resembles, for it exhibits a rare psychological and physical honesty.