I was watching a French film the other day, and it finally dawned on my why French films are so (in?)famous for having…shall we say, adult content.
And just when you reach the point in the film where a sane viewer would say, “Good grief, this movie is boring! And pretentious! I am going to stop watching!” the first naked lady makes an appearance.
“Oh, hang on, this just got interesting,” you think to yourself if other people are in the room, or say aloud if you’re alone.
And if you’re all alone, sitting in a dark room while watching a French movie and talking to yourself, you’re a sick bastard. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
French film directors, realizing their propensity for using their movies to lecture you about topics ranging from existential nihilism to abstract pony-saddling techniques, and not being complete idiots, throw in some racy sexy bits right about the point where most intelligent film-goers (film-goers, because the French don’t make things as crass as movies) would leave the theater with a roll of the eye and a snort of disdain.
But a naked lady keeps us in our seats.
Often, just to be safe, these directors will throw in a second naked lady, and, on occasion, as a bone to female and homosexual film-goers, a third, naked, male participant.
Sadly, they almost always ruin what would be perfectly entertaining scenes by having the characters continue to talk.
I find this horribly distracting, especially if they’re talking about pony-saddling techniques while they go at it.
And being French films, muting the volume doesn’t help. Those damned, sanctimonious subtitles are still there, popping up at the bottom of the screen, their silent siren call irresistible to all but the most astigmatic of eyes.
So while there’s a lot of pink bobbing and bouncing on the top three-quarters of the screen, I find myself reading some arrogant dissertation on Man’s inhumanity to Man, and Holy Moly, is that kind of posture possible when non-gymnasts have sex?
So you stick around because the top three-quarters of the screen compels you to, even after the love/lust/orgy/what-the-hell-is-that-pony-doing-here scene has ended.
Because hey, there might be another one of those scenes soon.
Not soon enough, anyway.
No, instead you have to watch the characters, who are nothing more than annoying, two-dimensional substitutes for metaphors, move around on the screen in such a dull manner that your eyes naturally drift down to read more pedantic crap about how small and insignificant individuals are in the universe. All of this surrounded by the cacophony that is known as the French language.
Give me Esperanto over French any day.
But these directors know their stuff. French film academies must have commissioned thousands of studies involving millions of people, to learn at just what point you need to stick another flagrantly naked people scene into a movie to prevent a mass audience exodus from the theater.
The French term for this type of scene is bébé scandaleusement nu de personnes oh ouais!
I just call it disgusting.
Very watchable disgusting.
Sadly, this hopscotching from one nucleus accumbens-loving scene to another has a terrible cost for the viewer. We think, with each well-framed gyration of bare skin, that we are one moment closer to an exciting filmatic climax, that the infuriatingly smug presentation of the central theme of the film is some form of crude foreplay that serves, in its inept, pleasure-killing manner, only to make us appreciate the naughty bits all that much more.
Much like, as my dad used to say, your lip feels so much better when you pull the needle out of it.
Turns out, that’s not true.
Not even remotely.
So just as your lip continues to hurt like hell after the needle extraction, these scenes are not all the more titillating because they are surrounded by the cinematic messaging equivalent of blunt force trauma. If they were, all French films would end with a bébé scandaleusement nu de personnes oh ouais!
But they don’t. The directors assume after the last sex scene that we are spent and limp in our chairs, unable to resist one final not-even-thinly-veiled homily about whatever idiotic point their movie is supposedly about.
Although watching a pony talk to me about different types of saddle bindings while both I and the pony are in a semi-conscious state is definitely a surreal experience.
Just not one I recommend.
So the directors take advantage of our near-somnambulistic state to hammer home their message. Usually via a drawn-out monologue voice-over while presenting us a car’s-eye-view of someone driving down a long and winding road, the destination unknown and unknowable, the driver of said car unknowing.
When the film gets to this point, I am left not knowing why I sat through the entire movie. I yearn for the ability to travel back in time, not to prevent myself from seeing the movie, but to kill myself before seeing the movie in order to create a paradox that destroys the entire universe, thus protecting alternate universes from this form of visual drivel.
It takes me a few days to get over this feeling and abandon my time-travel development efforts in the basement.
Which is probably in everyone’s self-interest.
I liken this French approach to ending films to a hard, swift kick in the man-globes right after a session of oh-so-fine-lovin’.
Like a French film, I go into it suspecting nothing so dire awaits me, and afterwards I always feel vaguely used, deeply unsatisfied, and in a tremendous amount of crotch pain.
Or as the French call it, douleur de fourche.
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