Synopsis: He has been both hailed and condemned as “the most notorious filmmaker working in Europe today.” And for this third movie in his controversial trilogy on female sexuality, writer/director Jean-Claude Brisseau (The Exterminating Angels, Secret Things) takes you to the outermost edges of passion and transgression. Carole Brana stars as a sexually unfulfilled young woman who embarks on a series of forbidden encounters fueled by hypnosis, desire and complete intellectual and carnal surrender. How far would you go to find the ultimate erotic ecstasy? Etienne Chicot (The Da Vinci Code), Lise Bellynck and Estelle Galarme co-star in this startlingly provocative exploration of the female orgasm that continues to shock and seduce audiences around the world.
À l’aventure 7.0
‘À l’aventure’ is a fitting, if underwhelming, ending to Jean-Claude Brisseau’s trilogy on female sexuality. It focuses less on the sex itself and more on ecstasy in a more abstract, mystical way. While this would surely pique the curiosity of some viewers, especially those into transcendentalism, I found it altogether too abstract to derive any satisfaction out of it.
I found it challenging to accept the use of hypnosis as a tool to delve into past lives and to tap into the power of the human body. While this could conceivably, theoretically, be done, I find this too esoteric a method to convince me of its credibility. To me, it oozes with fantasy of a very different kind – not so much erotic as spiritual.
Which is fine. If that’s what you’re seeking. Which I wasn’t.
What I did find appealing, however, was the more philosophical questions being explored in the film – another element that could put off some viewers (especially those looking for primal over intellectual stimulation ). I enjoyed that the lead was questioning her whole life and decided to drop out of the system for a year, as she tried to figure it all out.
I loved that she would sit on a park bench and discuss the meaning of life, avidly drinking in every word that her new-found buddy would pour out of his mouth. She really was keen to understand, to grasp the things that had eluded her thus far – unlike her friend, who suggests distractions instead of thinking, because she feels that thought brings too much pain.
This is how she meets her new lover, Fred. While sitting in a café, she watches him consults a series of psychiatry books and asks him about it. Fascinated by what he has to say, she decides to sleep with him. This action would change her life irrevocably, not just due to the direct impact this has on her personal relationships, but also because of the associations she’ll make via him.
Our protagonist, Sandrine, is played by Carole Brana. While she is more traditionally attractive than the cast of the ‘Choses secrètes‘ and ‘Les anges exterminateurs‘, she is nonetheless unusual in her own way, like a cross of Liv Tyler and Calista Flockhart. Again, Brisseau made more realistic choices, but I suspect that he must have succumbed to temptation a little bit this time – case-in-point, the fact that one of the three women has very obvious implants. Sigh.
There is a certain amount of eroticism in ‘À l’aventure’, but it is subdued in comparison to the previous two installments – not just in frequency but overall intensity of the sequences. Still, compared to its peers, it has enough to shock the average North America viewer and it would have to be heavily censored to get anywhere on television. Actually, I don’t even know if it’s possible without destroying the film’s flow. I suspect that it would prove challenging.
In some ways, ‘À l’aventure’ feels like a late-night blue movie, except with an actually decent production budget and crew. Plus which it’s more graphic. But what stands it apart is the intelligence with which it blends the erotic with the philosophical, existential, transcendental, and mystical. It has its hoaky side, but it has been put together by skilled filmmakers and this is indubitably what helps it stand out from lesser erotic cinema.