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Pleasure Is All Mine, The
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by Collin Souter

"Do you realize how many porno movies have this exact same plot?"
3 stars

Is it because I’m a guy that I just didn’t get into this movie? If so, should I feel inferior about that? Is it because I don’t own a clitoris and that I don’t know what it’s like to lose one? Is that why the characters in this film just didn’t engage me? I won’t say the movie bored me, because it didn’t. It has its charm, but yet it feels like so many other conventional romantic comedies that it almost belongs in my Rom-Com series I’ve been working on over the past year. It’s not as bad as any of the American rom-coms we’ve been dealt over the past nine months, but it’s also not much more interesting.

Or maybe it is. You tell me. When she last made love with her boyfriend, Louise (Marie Gillain) couldn’t help but notice that something crucial had gone missing in her life. Specifically, her clitoris. She had it yesterday, but today it’s gone. The blunt, straight-talking Louise struggles to make herself feel like a sexual being again by seeing a sexual therapist, a gynecologist, an African healer and by trying sex toys, but to no avail. Every therapist Louise encounters fails to fully grasp her situation and every attempt to render it (vibrators, lesbianism, gynecological exams) ends up as a comical trial-and-error episode.

Almost as though she lost her car keys, Louise freely expresses these frustrations to her friends and family and even causes them to look at their own sex lives in ways they never have. The movie explores how men and women express and internalize their sexual desires and how those desires relate to love and commitment.

Refreshingly, though, “The Pleasure is All Mine” takes a different approach to its depiction of sex than what has been done recently in French cinema (“Romance,”
“ Baise-moi”, “Irreversible”). Rather than trying to shock with explicit images, “Pleasure” instead tries to engage its audience through explicit dialogue about sex. Louise’s honesty about her condition tends to raise eyebrows from her stunned listeners at first, which lends the movie a certain charm. There’s something oddly refreshing about seeing the French getting offended by talk of sex.

In the end, the movie turns out to be a love story rather than a simplistic farce. Louise’s sort-of boyfriend, Francois (Julien Boisselier), takes the situation in stride at first, but it soon becomes apparent to both characters that a bigger issue may be at stake. “Just because we live together,” they say to one another. “Doesn’t mean we are together.” Louise’s frustration stems from the fact that she’s afraid to take the next step with Francois.

Maybe this happens more than I think. I don’t know. I’m a guy. All I know is that I would love to be a Hollywood exec and hear the pitch for this film. There probably won’t be an Americanized remake, but I’m guessing there’s an episode of “Sex and the City” out there with the same storyline. It’s an edgy premise, but the movie runs out of ideas and overall it feels almost too conventional. Perhaps that’s the point, that we as human beings should be so accustomed by now to have these feelings that they really shouldn’t be all that shocking anymore. These issues should be treated like any other in your average Romantic Comedy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of this review can also be found in the 2004 Chicago International Film Festival Guide, also written by Collin Souter.

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originally posted: 10/18/04 12:40:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/13/04 yeow provoking and funny! 5 stars
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