Anatomy Of Hell (2004)

CATHERINE BREILLAT

Bil’s rating (out of 5): B

Original Title: Anatomie de l’enfer

/, 2004, , , , .   Screenplay by , based on her novel Pornocratie.   Cinematography by , Produced by .   Music by .   Production Design by , Costume Design by .   Film Editing by Toronto International Film Festival 2004.

Catherine Breillat adapts her own novel Pornocratie for a rather uninspiring exploration of the brutally physical side of sex.  is a woman who attempts suicide in the bathroom of a gay club and is saved by a stranger (porn star ), who accompanies her home after getting her wounds seen to.  She tells him she wants to pay him to visit her and “watch her when she’s unwatchable” and he agrees, showing up four nights in a row and observing her as she lies around in the nude and contemplates her corporeal vulnerability.  Breillat wants very much to shake you up with expressions of intimacy that you are guaranteed not to be comfortable with, including watching closeups of Siffredi’s world-famous penis penetrate a menstruating vagina (a body double’s and not Casar’s, we are told in the film’s opening credits) and having the characters drink a glass of water after she’s put her bloody tampon in it.  As high art provocations go, this one is certainly more daring than a lot of other contemporary (usually French) films that dare to present raw, if not always real, sexuality but usually make it all look so glamourous (including her own Romance as well as John Cameron Mitchell’s later Shortbus).  The vicious nature of what she gives us here is worthless, however, because of the lack of intimacy: the two stars never get much heat going between them and their dialogue, which thinks itself philosophical, is laughably pretentious, the sort of thing that maybe plays sexy on the page but when performed out loud is far less credible than the idea of a sane woman willing to ruin this much bed linen.

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