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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.84%
Worth A Look: 21.57%
Average: 3.92%
Pretty Bad: 17.65%
Total Crap49.02%

5 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Anatomy of Hell
[] Buy posters from this movie
by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Hey, who shoved this pitchfork up my ass when I was asleep?!"
1 stars

People of France: Please, please, please stop exporting bad sex movies disguised as serious artistic statements. You’ve already stuck us with RAPE ME, ROMANCE, IRREVERSIBLE, and now here we are with the latest entry in the porno-pretension genre, ANATOMY OF HELL, which absolutely stinks to high heaven.

At a noisy discotheque, a man (Rocco Siffredi) stumbles into the bathroom and encounters a woman (Amira Casar) cutting her wrist. “Why did you do that?” he asks. “Because I’m a woman,” she replies. With dialogue like that, it’s too bad she didn’t cut her tongue. It gets worse from there.

The woman pays the man, who is gay, to come back to her sparsely furnished apartment for a rather odd late-night encounter session. She just wants to talk, about sex, about gender relations, about men’s secret contempt for the female body; she is no ordinary woman, you see, but an oracle of feminine wisdom. The man is up to the challenge, for he too is massively pretentious. What follows is over an hour of one of the most strained, affected, intellectually dubious conversations ever captured on film. No one, not even the French, has ever spoken this way; the things that come out of these people’s mouths are so tortuously stilted that Jean-Paul Sartre would have gotten the giggles. And somewhere in there, the guy shoves a pitchfork up her ass while she’s dozing.

ANATOMY OF HELL plays out like a bad Socratic dialogue that somehow got edited into a porno flick. Because it could scarcely be called a movie, there’s little point in dwelling upon its cinematic qualities, though it should be said that real-life porno star Siffredi—yes, it’s the star of ROCCO’S BEST BUTT FUCKS himself—isn’t half bad as the The Man. But the whole function of the film, really, is for director Catherine Breillat to get across her radical-feminist ideas about the battle of the sexes. What these are, exactly, isn’t easy to summarize, what with all the often impenetrably baroque dialogue; but Breillat seems to be saying that male behavior is motivated by fear and loathing toward women. By way of proof, we’re treated to a lengthy and fairly bizarre diatribe about the evils of tampons, which, we’re pointedly informed, were invented by men. Fine, woman, go ahead and bleed all over the fuckin’ couch; see if I care. And did you know that men are threatened by dildos? Which after all make penises unnecessary?

To be fair, there is at least some truth in all this; a lot of guys are threatened by women. But gender politics is a two-way street, and it’s not just men who have unreasonable anxieties about the opposite sex. Balance, unfortunately, isn't the Catherine Breillat way.

Strangely enough, the film is prefaced by a note revealing that Casar had a body double for the “intimate” scenes. The irony is too rich to ignore: In a movie advocating freedom of sexual expression for women, the lead actress apparently got camera shy.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/28/04 19:03:52
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/11/20 Louise (the real one) It's good stuff. Not so horrible as some of you make out 4 stars
5/31/08 adam a great pos film 1 stars
10/04/06 Mas-ud Its a gr8 piece of work 4 stars
9/13/06 lee fantastic 5 stars
5/25/06 Ashish A great deal worse than Breillat's 'Romance'. Pretentious and boring. 1 stars
5/26/05 What a waste bad porn. 1 stars
2/04/05 tatum Breillat's most pretentious film yet 1 stars
12/15/04 donut what a load of rubbish, absolute crap eat shit and die 1 stars
11/16/04 nika this film stayed with me a long time...I agree-rethink it! 4 stars
10/21/04 michael ISENBERG VISUALLY interesting ....... 4 stars
10/16/04 Ola Nordmann The feminist Breillat tells us things we have heard before. Nothing to shout about. 3 stars
10/08/04 Ted Moons Silly - yet another try too hard to be artsy from the French. 1 stars
10/01/04 Graham I know the events are symbolic. The film keeps bashing me over the head with its symbolism 1 stars
9/29/04 mchoir ok 2 stars
9/03/04 YoBone! This film is not what it appears to be. ALL the events and images are symbolic. Rethink it. 5 stars
7/30/04 Sam Trubridge Not quite the 'art wank' that Scott alleges, but who is Breillat addressing? 3 stars
7/11/04 Peter Uneccisarily provocative. The dialogue was pretencious 2 stars
7/08/04 Sam Hunt a very enlightening look at the one of the ways people view each other and themsellves 5 stars
7/08/04 cecilia BLOODY GOOD!!!!!! 5 stars
7/03/04 Chris Lovell What astrange concept - that men hate all women because of their genitals - personally I fu 2 stars
4/02/04 chayang crazyguy 4 stars
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  30-Jun-2004 (R)

Directed by
  Catherine Breillat

Written by
  Catherine Breillat

  Rocco Siffredi
  Amira Casar

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