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The Pornographer

This French film, directed by Bertrand  Bonello, has generated controversy both sides of the channel as the British Film censors the BBFC have excised one shot to allow it a 18 certificate. The director is outraged. It raises that hardy perennial of what is art and what is porn? In this case the lines are confused as its a film about a disillusioned porn director who returns to the genre as he has financial problems. It shows him making a film. The device of a film within a film is very French .

The porn scene being filmed ends in what is called in the trade a cumshot and this is the scene that was censored. Bonello argues that its not a porn film but a film about a porn director. He adds to his argument by accentuating that his lead actor Jean Claude Leaud is a veteran of the French cinema (he was in Truffaut’s ” 400 blows”). You might compare him to Sir Derek Jacobi. Equally the main actress in the porn being filmed is Ovide a leading star of that genre. The film gained a award at Cannes in 2001 and is generally critically acclaimed.

Personally I was disappointed by the film but am on the director’s side. The constant interplay during the shooting of the porn film clearly showed this was a film more about the effects of porn and the disillusionment of the director than a sequence of poorly edited sex scenes. The director was not particularly attractive either in looks or in personality: he bullied the actresses, walked out on his wife for no reason and only recently was re-engaged with his son, a an architect trainee who is an anarchist. The scenes when the son sits round pontificating about life with his revolutionary chums were pretty tedious .

Oscar Wilde said there is no such thing as a pornographic book: its either good or bad. I would call this film mediocre.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts