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Brief Crossing (2001)

Director: Catherine Breillat
Starring: Sarah Pratt, Gilles Guillain
Not Rated Running time: 80 minutes
Released by Fox Lorber

For a filmmaker known for creating startling images of sex and violence, Catherine Breillat's Brief Crossing is shocking because it features none of those things. Made the same year as her excellent Fat Girl, this film tells the tale of a 24 hour liaison between a thirtysomething English divorcee (Sarah Pratt) and a naive French teenager (Gilles Guillain). Aboard a ferry crossing the English Channel, the two engage of a long game of sexual chicken, with the aggressive, cocky young man and the cool, headstrong been-around-the-block-a-few-times woman battling for dominance. Sarah Pratt's character takes every opportunity to criticize men, while the young man works hard to prove that she is wrong. The battle continues until the end of the night, when it is no longer clear who is attempting to seduce who. In between we get a very long uninterrupted scene in the ferry's bar that I am sure will be discussed in film classes all over the country.

Consisting mostly of dialogue, Brief Crossing gives Breillat the chance to flesh out her views on the battle between the sexes, in plainer language than in the past. It's intriguing stuff, but certainly not for everybody - you need to be in the right mood for this kind of movie. Slowly paced and long on dialogue, it will test the limits of even the most patient viewer. Breillat lets the story unfold at its own pace, never rushing towards the film's gutpunch climax. It's a doozy, but you'll need to be fully awake to appreciate it.

3 out of 5.

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