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||IMDB Rating: 5.6/10 from votes
||Release: 1 April 2009 (France) /
||Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
||Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau,
||Stars: Arnaud Binard, Carole Brana, Estelle Galarme, Etienne Chicot, Frédéric Aspisi, Jocelyn Quivrin, Lise Bellynck, Michèle Larue, Nadia Chibani
||Synopsis: Fed up with her present lifestyle, and more particularly sexually unsatisfied by her boyfriend Fred, Sandrine decides to find a new way in life. Intrigued by her friend Sophie, who tells her about her sexual experimentations, she will find, through various encounters, new pleasures and new experiences, whether physical or spiritual. Written by Guy Bellinger
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A festival blurb declares: "A sexually unfulfilled young woman embarks
on a series of graphic erotic encounters and becomes involved with a
student of psychoanalysis who offers to put her under hypnosis. Yes,
the notorious Jean-Claude Brisseau, director of 'The Exterminating
Angels' and 'Secret Things,' is back with his latest provocation.
Another idiosyncratic philosophical meditation on the enigmas of female
sexuality, it features the director's latest discovery, Carole Brana.
Pretentious smut for high-brows, a dirty old man's fantasies writ
large, or a profound and daring exploration of society's sexual taboos?
It's easy enough to decide that this is not "pretentious smut for
highbrows" (do highbrows like smut?) or a "dirty old man's fantasies
writ large." It is far too beautiful and intelligent and thoughtful for
that. It's an odd film, which combines S/M, religious ecstasy, and some
basic information about cosmology in an attractive package. Perhaps
only a French filmmaker could have made this. And only a man still
conventional in his notions of sexual roles could put lovely nude women
on display having sex with each other and masturbating with men in
charge and think it a bold exploration of new possibilities.
'À l'aventure' begins like a New Wave film, with conversation and
random meetings. It might be early Eric Rohmer, for a little while,
anyway; not for long. Sandrine (Carole Brana) sits on a bench talking
to her friend Sophie (Lise Bellynck), and an older man (Étienne Chicot)
joins them and makes wise reflections. What he says later influences
her. She is about to come into an inheritance. She offends her
boyfriend Fred (Jocelyn Quivrin) by masturbating in the next room after
they have had sex. He says she's become a "slut" and very soon
afterward he moves out.
Sandrine strikes up a conversation at a café with Greg (Arnaud Binard),
a good looking man with books on psychology and hypnosis. It turns out
he is training to be a psychiatrist. And he experiments on his
patients. Sandrine immediately finds him attractive and says so. They
go straight to his bedroom.
Later, Greg introduces Sandrine to several women and she also meets a
long-haired architect and decorator, Jérome (Frédéric Aspisi), who's
into heightening women's orgasms by playing their S/M master.
Eventually Greg takes some of the women on a risky trip to ecstatic
experience. All the while Sandrine keeps meeting the older man on the
bench, and eventually at his cabin out in the country. He is a taxi
driver but also studied meditation in India and taught physics. He
outlines the rough history of the cosmos to Sandrine and gives a
simplified explanation of Relativity.
The women are beautiful, especially the radiant Carole Brana. As the
"Old Man," Étienne Chicot speaks with resonant authority and a healthy
touch of humor. It is true that Brisseau's scenes of women having sex
go further than usual; when men are shown, it's quite conventional.
Greg and Jerome just watch. Poor Fred's performance is deemed
unsatisfying. Even the shots of landscape around the Old Man's cabin
are lovely. Watching the film is soothing and aesthetically
pleasurable. At the end, the Old Man proclaims Greg's experiments
foolish and risky; but other than a paranormal internal storm after a
woman's reliving of a saint's spiritual enlightenment, there are no
The problem with this pleasant and in some ways daring film is that it
is far too often more expository than dramatic. No matter how good
looking the people and the settings are, it's hard to shake off the
impression that one is being lectured -- and not on a very
sophisticated level. Nothing is imparted that one would not get in
elementary courses or basic reading in psychology, cosmology, religious
experience, and physics. The wisest advice comes from Sandrine's mother
(Michele Larue). She counsels her to go back to Fred and tells her
she's lucky that instead of having boredom with a young lover ahead,
she will discover love for a man she doesn't like enough yet.
Convention, she says, is necessary. But as the film ends, Sandrine
hasn't discovered that yet. The film barely touches on the possible
negative consequences of a life that's more exploratory than practical.
Brisseau is 65. Is this where French baby boomers are at?
'À l'aventure' has been optioned by IFC. It opens in France April 1,
2009. It was shown in February 2009 as part of the 'Film Comment'
Selects series at Lincoln Center, New York.
Tags for À l'aventure Full Movie
, Carole Brana
, Estelle Galarme
, Etienne Chicot
, Frédéric Aspisi
, Jocelyn Quivrin
, Lise Bellynck
, Michèle Larue
, Nadia Chibani
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