Friday, 5 June 2009

DVD from my Collection: Romance, A Film by Catherine Breillat

Cinema and film culture is another interest of mine coming just behind imaginative fiction (novels and short stories.) So I suppose it's about time I started writing about films on Underground Man. Each time I view a DVD in my collection or purchase a new one I will write a mini-review. The bulk of my DVD viewing comes from online rental (Lovefilm), I watch two (just released or back catalogue) rental films a week, and I go to the cinema at least once a month, but I will not review these except if I buy the DVD later.

To get an idea of what type of cinema I like please take a look at my Blog profile or my top ten films released or re-issued in 2008.

Romance was one of those films released when the British Board of Film Classification had relaxed its rules in the late 90's, allowing scenes of real sex to appear in 18 certificate films. But unlike the revelling in nihilism and violence (see the nasty Baise-Moi) these films seemed to consist of, Romance although not a light hearted romp is chiefly about hanky-panky. Following a basic strand in much erotica-a sexually ravenous female protagonist, her needs frustrated by a cold husband or partner, goes on a sexual odyssey to find fulfilment-Catherine Breillat brings in a heavy chunk of feminism, alongside the explicit sex. The main character portrayed by the very attractive Caroline Ducey, picks up a stranger in a bar (played by Rocco Siffredi, a real life porn actor), for casual sex; offers herself for money to another but is raped in the process and engages in heavy bondage sessions with an older man. She finds a small amount of satisfaction in the affair with Siffredi, finding far more in the kinky games with the older libertine; but only with childbirth and autonomy from men (but not hatred of men) does she find herself.

Romance has an unreal artful quality like a depiction of a sexual fantasy or dream. The most lurid sequence (out of many lurid sequences) is Ducey's fantasy of working in a brothel where her body is divided by a wall, offering the punters her legs and sex organs only, as the rest of her body is not visible. This is not a gritty, realist portrayal of relations between the sexes, but rather what goes on inside the protagonist's mind when she thinks about sex. One of the few films directed by a woman, Catherine Breillat's feminism makes a refreshing antidote to the male dominated world of erotica, but also it's important to add to the dour puritans going under the label 'feminist' in the UK.

Other erotic films in my DVD collection:

In the Realm of the Senses

The Beast

Immoral Tales

Sex and Lucia

1 comment:

James Nesten said...

Dan Zukovic's "DARK ARC", a bizarre modern noir dark comedy called "Absolutely brilliant...
truly and completely different..." in Film Threat, was recently released on DVD and Netflix through
Vanguard Cinema (, and is currently
debuting on Cable Video On Demand. The film had it's World Premiere at the Montreal
World Film Festival, and it's US Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. Featuring
Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and
Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the
Glam/Punk songs "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst", "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire" and a
dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett.


***** (Five stars) "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different...something you've never tasted
before..." Film Threat
"A black comedy about a very strange love triangle" Seattle Times
"Consistently stunning images...a bizarre blend of art, sex, and opium, "Dark Arc" plays like a candy-coloured
version of David Lynch. " IFC News
"Sarah Strange is as decadent as Angelina Jolie thinks she is...Don't see this movie sober!" Metroactive Movies
"Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. " American Cinematheque