Synopsis: Stories of love and desire form the emotional and sensual epicentre of DESIRE. When the enigmatic 20-year-old Cecile walks into the lives of a group of conflicted teenagers, their deepest-felt sexual urges are unleashed and their worlds changed forever. After the death of her father, Cecile looks for support from her friends but it’s only through random sexual encounters that she finds solace.
DESIRE is a probing look at the nature of sexual impulses and the unique intimacy that only sex can create between two people. Sure to cause controversy, DESIRE bares all with its cast of youthful newcomers delivering wryly observed dialogue behind an unbridled depiction of carnal passion. Directed by controversial French filmmaker Laurent Bouhnik (24 Hours in the Life of a Woman), DESIRE is a subversive and explicit adventure that is impossible to forget.
eyelights: the beautiful people. the sexy bits.
eyesore: its lack of plot. its characters’ unlikability. its emotional blandness.
“I can’t feel anything.”
Laurent Bouhnik’s ‘Q’ is part of a growing breed of pictures that deal with sexual liaisons of all types by featuring unsimulated sex. It follows a handful of young adults who intermingle in various ways as they seek to seduce, or are seduced by, each other.
While I very much enjoy the explicit nature of these film, I don’t always understand the point. I mean, actors usually fake actions and emotions on screen, so why have real sex? Is it strictly a voyeuristic indulgence on the filmmakers’ part? Or is there more?
In ‘Q’, it seemed to me that titillation was the only point. Having seen the censored version (which was released as ‘Desire’ in the US by Strand Releasing), I can attest that the picture has no real emotional centre; it’s genuinely uninspiring and unaffecting.
Basically, we watch Cécile hit on and try to seduce everyone in her path, despite being in a relationship with Chance. This is apparently her way of coping with her father’s death, of trying to feel something. The others also use sex to work some of their issues.
But it all feels contrived, unconvincing.
From a plot standpoint, it’s no deeper than your average porn film, except that it’s performed relatively well and the production quality is much higher. This looks and feels like a “real” film, except that it has explicit sex in it – this is not a Hollywood film.
I compared the two versions, after discovering that the North American release was censored, and the explicit sex makes a significant difference: for one, the encounters don’t seem as ridiculous in some cases, like when Cecile masturbates Chance from behind.
Secondly, it switches off your brain a bit more (at least, it did for me), so a lot more of what goes on outside those encounters passes muster, becomes more tolerable. And, really, some of those scenes are actually pretty damned sexy in their uncensored form.
In fact, it’s probably the only affecting part of the film.
But it leads one to wonder what the difference is between one of these movies and actual porn. Is it the way the sex is presented? As explicit as it is in ‘Q’, it doesn’t feel like a performance more so than a candid look at people actually having sex. It’s intimate.
Still, what’s the point if the story isn’t anything to write home about, if the performances are solid but average, and it doesn’t affect the viewer? I mean, I’m a huge fan of ‘Ai no korida‘, one of the first of this genre of film, but it’s everything ‘Q’ is not.
Maybe the point here is that the characters feel little outside of their sexual selves?
I don’t know.
The original French poster for the film says that it’s a movie that all women would adore, so I guess the target audience would be women. But I don’t understand why women would love this picture; it’s not like the men or women in ‘Q’ are remarkable in any way.
There are black and white inserts of discussions about relationships and sex between faceless women hanging out in a shower room, but these seemed a bit superficial to me. And they all culminated with the women preparing themselves for a first night as call girls.
…because the message seemed to be: “men are jerks so they might as well pay for it.”
It’s one point of view, certainly, but the pretension that all women would adore a motion picture whose ultimate conclusion is this seems to be a bit daft. Anyway, the most promiscuous and manipulative of all the characters is a female character, not a male one.
So, what gives?
I guess I’ll have to lend it to some female friends (or, ideally, watch it with them) and then find out what they thought of it. Maybe I’m just not the picture’s target audience. Having said that, I do tend to like progressive films that are geared towards women.
In any event, mystified though I may be by its intentions and value, I enjoyed the sexiness of ‘Q’. From that perspective, it certainly succeeds. But I highly caution anyone about getting the censored North American edit; it adds awkwardness to the mix.
And that‘s not sexy at all.
Date of viewing: February 9, 2017