À L'aventure

"Good"

À L'aventure Review


À l'aventure, the latest erotic film from France's most lurid enfant terrible Jean-Claude Brisseau, is yet another film meant to be divisive and which I find myself on the fence about. The director's obsessions are still there: the gothic interiors and fascination with architecture, the concept of freedom from one's own self and, of course, the image, sound, and process of the female orgasm. Philosophy and psychoanalysis have their place here, rolling off the tongues of a young man and an older taxi driver, but they're riding shotgun; the female of the species is far more deadly than the male.

Poised like a cobra at a mongoose party, Sandrine (Carole Brana) sits and talks with her girlfriend, taking violent bites of a piece of bread, when a taxi driver (Etienne Chicot) appears next to them. He speaks nonsense about how panties protect and brassieres support and how this all comes back to the prison known as day-to-day life. The friend is offended; Sandrine is enthralled. She will meet with the man throughout the ensuing psychoanalytical pabulum and they will speak of ecstasy, God, freedom, and the stars, amongst other things. In another world, the film could be re-titled These Encounters of Theirs.

It is Sandrine's encounter with another man, the young Gregory (Arnaud Binard), which sparks a psychoanalytical side in the young lady. After waxing intellectual about hypnosis and how the subconscious communicates, they go to a hotel and have quite a lot of sex. Unlike her terrifically banal boyfriend, Gregory seems unlikely to really care what Sandrine does with other men or women and when he introduces her to the last woman he slept with, Sophie (Lise Bellynck, the irrepressible actress at the center of Brisseau's The Exterminating Angels), there's an immediate semblance of attraction between the women.

Everything seems attracted to everything in À l'aventure: psychoanalysis to sexuality, ecstasy to divinity, obedience to freedom. When Sophie allows Greg and Sandrine to watch her be dominated by an architect and his lover Mina (Nadia Chibani), they follow it with a discussion about how wearing down defenses (thinking) is the key to pure existence.

Brisseau goes heavy on the theory, speaking almost strictly in wandering existential tirades and cryptic dreams, but the filmmaking is more sweeping than contemplative. There's also a certain confessional nature to the film, but I nevertheless found myself distanced from everything that occurred. Brisseau has remarked that À l'aventure is the most personal film he's ever made and, perhaps expectedly, there's a sense that the filmmaker got much more out of this process than the viewer possibly could.

That isn't to say that Brisseau's lusty abstraction isn't enticing and even, at moments, fascinating. Hypnosis-driven orgies and female masturbation abound, Brisseau ultimately climaxes with a literal out-of-body experience, an orgasm that, quite literally, tears the room apart. Is it all just pornography as art? I don't think so, but it certainly isn't The Girlfriend Experience. The performers, all admirably unrestrained and willing, are the buzzing, kinetic synapses in Brisseau's head which leads us invariably to wonder how much of this world that the director has created is real. The answer doesn't really matter because not even the film can come to any conclusions; it just leaps to another plane of existence.



À L'aventure

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st April 2009

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Soficinéma 3, Moby Dick Films, La Sorcière Rouge

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: François Yon, Nicolas Brigaud-Robert

Starring: Carole Brana as Sandrine, Lise Bellynck as Sophie, Jocelyn Quivrin as Fred, Arnaud Binard as Greg, Nadia Chibani as Mina

Also starring:

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