The Pornographer
Lights. Camera. Erm.... Jacques (Leaud) directs a scene, sort of.
Le Pornographe

dir-scr Bertrand Bonello
with Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jeremie Renier, Dominique Blanc, Andre Marcon, Thibault De Montalembert, Alice Houri, Ovide, Catherine Mouchet, Laurent Lucas, Jeremie Elkaim, Boris Salles, Thomas Blanchard
release UK 9.Apr.02
01/France 1h48

1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

The title will lure people into this film, but viewers are going to be hideously disappointed. That's putting it mildly. Because only fans of the most pretentious, dull French cinema will even remotely like this film. It's all about Jacques (Leaud), a porn filmmaker who's now 50 years old and trying to rebuild a relationship with his adult son (Renier), trying to figure out how to leave his wife (Blanc) and trying not to get drawn back into porn filmmaking, even though he needs the money. He would much rather do something artistic and creative ... or at least build a house for himself.

From the very first scene we know we're in trouble here--writer-director Bonello uses all of the most irritating trademarks of French cinema, from long, silent, pointless takes to jarring snippets of background music. Later on we get lots of vague hints of political and artistic sophistication. But he never bothers to coherently address the issues he raises, which could be quite compelling and interesting. The actors drift through the scenes inexplicably--we never get even the slightest idea who these people are or how they interact, as all of the main interaction is somehow left off-screen. As a result, the two sequences in which we watch porn being filmed are easily the most interesting scenes in the film! Surely it all means something, but Bonello just seems incapable of communicating to his audience in a meaningful way.

NOTE: THE BRITISH BOARD OF FILM CLASSIFICATION has ordered that 11 seconds of this film (part of a scene in which an explicit porn film is being shot) be removed before it can be shown in the UK. British distributor MetroTartan is protesting this "butchery" but has no alternative. Bertrand Bonello says his film has been released in 12 countries, but this is the first time it has been censored. The Metro Cinema in London is posting still images from the censored scene in its art gallery!
strong themes and situations, language, nudity cert 18 12.Feb.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "Interesting film with all the French pretensions (French-Canadian pretentions to be exact) you mention in your review. It sticks in the mind though. Considering that the porno industry is a massive, largely unexplained phenomenon, more intelligent films like this are needed." --Subdude, Vancouver BC 29.Jun.03
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall