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Sex: The Annabel Chong Story Review

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A documentary exploring why Annabel Chong decided to have sex with 251 men in 10 hours - and what happened afterwards.

★★★★★

There have been a number of recent films in which graphic sex has been used as a symbol of female empowerment, among them Catherine Breillat's Romance. But while Grace Quek would have you believe that her porn star alter ego, Annabel Chong, is fighting the same cause, this furtive documentary suggests she is driven far more by self-loathing than the pursuit of female emancipation.

Annabel Chong was 22 when, in January 1995, she fornicated with 251 men in 10 hours before the handheld cameras of hardcore director John Bowen. She was deceived into believing that all the volunteers had taken AIDS tests and has yet to receive her full fee. However, she insists that the ego-boosting bonking, fleeting fame and aggressive advocacy of female sexuality were all worth dying for.

A convent-educated, bourgeois single child, Quek is a psycho-babbling mess of contradictions. Blagging post-feminist extroversion for all she's worth, the confused and insecure Quek allows herself to be filmed taking a blade to her forearm, waiting in a public clinic for HIV results and plucking up the courage to come clean to her unsuspecting folks.

The interviews, with Quek, her friends, family and pornographers, raise more questions than they answer. But still more troubling is the role of the British-born Lewis, who slept with Quek during the shoot. She may have put herself at his disposal, but he isn't entirely free of the exploitation charges his film levels against the porn barons. Nonetheless, this is still a wincingly compelling study of subversion, voyeurism and self-delusion.

Move the last line here - A wincingly compelling study of subversion, voyeurism and self-delusion.

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