Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jeremie Renier, Dominique Blanc

Director: Bertrand Bonello

THE PORNOGRAPHER, the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, arrives with some controversy due to the movie’s subject matter. Whereby some movie censors have a field day with certain graphic violent movies, others take a stand when it comes to sex. This movie attempts to move the thin line that borders art house movies and hardcore porn.

Set in modern day France, Jaques Laurent (Jean Pierre Leaud) has mounting debts that force him back to the job he did best during the 70’s, as a movie director in the porno industry. One of the reasons he gave up directing was the way the performance of his actors, to say the least, left him cold and heartless.

We learn that years previously Jaques’ son, Joseph, left the family home as a teenager and never bothered keeping in contact with his father. As a small boy, Joseph was told that his father was a movie director but on finding out which field of the movie business his father worked in, Joseph turned his back on him. Years later, Joseph is now a university student who is making his mark in the world by coming up with intelligent forms of protest. Unlike his father who seems to dwell too much on one thing or another, Joseph successfully moves on from his protests when the opportunity arises and falls in love with another student.

Contacting his father is a step in the right direction for Joseph and while Jaques never expected his son to ever speak to him, he does his best to act like a father to him. Meanwhile, Jaques finds it hard to get back into directing as all the old resentments and doubts about his own ability to do the job are constantly compared to the idea and images he has about the movie he really wants to do called ‘The Animal’.

As we get to see, Jaques’ directing style is itself cold. When his assistant director suggests the use of music during one of the sex scenes, Jaques dismisses the idea only to have his wishes ignored when he fails to finish the scene.

The most curious thing about the movie is what type of audience it would attract. While the sex scenes are slightly on the graphic side, the uncut version that was shown at the preview will probably have the money shot exorcised from the version that will be put out on general release. Unfortunately, these sex scenes, especially the scene of how the movie within the movie would look if it ever got filmed, are actually the best parts in this drab, overlong and slow paced film. Even as a study of characters, none of them bring any real emotion of sympathy and just like the Jaques character, the film leaves the audience feeling cold well before the closing credits.

2 out of 6 stars