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The Pornographer (2001)

Director: Bertrand Bonello
Starring: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jeremie Renier, Catherine Mouchet, Ovidie
Unrated Running time: 106 minutes
Released by Koch Lorber Films

The Pornographers would have worked much better as a short film, as there is only one scene in the film that is worth watching or discussing. It is the centerpiece of the movie and it occurs in the first act of the film. On the set of his latest movie, an aging porn director named Jacques Laurent (Jean-Pierre Leaud) discovers the hard way that his arty brand of smut is no longer in demand. They are shooting the film's big scene, and the director has instructed his actors to engage in intercourse while completely silent, and with nothing resembling passion on display whatsoever. The actors oblige - but the film's producer is clearly unhappy. About midway through the filming the producer simply begins giving the direction, and the scene begins to resemble your typical XXX film. The producer yells, "CUT!", and tells the frumpy old director that he is washed up.

That's all we really need to know about the main character and his plight, but The Pornographers goes on for a another hour and a half. Lots of long shots of nothing and conversations about things that offer nothing in the way of character or story development make up the bulk of the film. There are conversations about art and politics that give the film a pretentious angle that will either irritate the hell out of you or put you to sleep. To put it bluntly, the film seems to typify everything that is wrong with French cinema. To take a movie that features one of the adult industry's most beautiful actresses (Ovidie) in an explicit sex scene and turn it into such a hard-to-endure snoozefest as The Pornographers is no small accomplishment. For that director Bertrand Bonello deserves either a beating or an award. I'm not sure which.

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