Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Perfect Love (Catherine Breillat)

This is the second Breillat film I've seen (the other with an equally dispassionately sarcastic title, Romance--although maybe Breillat does take these titles literally, which is even more troubling), and while I think she's a visually skilled filmmaker and the two films are successful in that Breillat's vision seems intact, I don't take much pleasure in her work. Maybe I'm misreading her films, but I think Breillat takes a dismal view of long-term sexual and romantic relationships, seeing them as repetitive, sadistic routines. I find her characters either obnoxious jerks or mega-bores, and her clinical, graphic sex scenes are simultaneously a salesman's attempt to court controversy and a distanced, academic remove from real transgression. Her films proceed like academic theses, not lived experiences. By Perfect Love's end, all we're left with is a character we dislike robotically stabbing another we don't care about, filmed as yet another dispassionate penetration.

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