Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Perfect Love (Catherine Breillat, 1996)

Catherine Breillat is another director whose entire body of work I'm attempting to see. At times, most times, actually, she is a difficult director to like; her films are incredibly philosophical and talky, as well as pornographic. She's a strong, radical feminist director, but sometimes her films have the edge of exploitation. Breillat does this to question the viewer's relationship between voyeurism and misogyny, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch.

Perfect Love comes between A Real Young Girl, a film that I thought was immature in its sexuality and discussion thereof, and Romance and Anatomy of Hell, my two favorite Breillat films, that discuss female sexuality and female sexual power in intensely philosophical terms. In its maturity and subject matter, it is a perfect bridge between those two groups of films (I'm excluding Fat Girl for the moment, it's a different case entirely). Frederique and Christophe meet and fall in love, despite the fact that's she's almost twice his age, twice divorced and with two children. Their relationship takes a familiar path: infidelity, lack of desire, and insults, but the conclusion is different. Christophe murders Frederique (in a scene that I, the biggest gore-hound this side of the Mississippi, found it incredibly hard to watch), a fact the viewer finds out at the beginning of the movie. Movies with foregone conclusions are always intruiging to me, so I was interested in finding out how the relationship sours so badly.

Breillat makes it clear that the relationship isn't extraordinary, but the people in it are. Frederique, Christophe points out at the beginnning of the movie, seems to destroy the men she falls in love with, and Christophe is a possibly-gay womanizer with quite a temper. These two clash almost immediately, but their periods of love are just as intense. Breillat's trademark inquiry into the power of female sexuality are there, although in a less mature form than, say, Anatomy of Hell. Frederique, in the film's most powerful dialogue, says, "I love sex, but I hate myself." This is kind of a thesis statement for Breillat's female heroines, and Ferderique dies for it.

Perfect Love is the kind of movie that gets better the more you think about it, which is true of all Breillat's work in my opinion. While not her best work, it shows the work of a filmmaker getting more mature and confident with every film she does. I can't wait for her new one with Asia Argento! All in all, a good, thought-provoking rental.


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