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.