Sex is Comedy (France/Portugal; 92 min.)

directed by: Catherine Breillat
starring: Anne Parillaud; Grégoire Colin; Roxane Mesquida
Sex is Comedy

Michael says: "As a follow-up to the controversial FAT GIRL, Breillat serves up something highly original and self-reflexive. At the core of FAT GIRL's controversy is a 12 - 20 minutes (depending on how you measure it) seduction/sex scene involving an erection, anal sex, and a character who is a minor. SEX IS COMEDY is a film about the filming of that scene. Breillat shows the painstaking and sometimes ludicrous details that went into a scene that depicts one of the most raw and honest sex scenes in film history. it's also a fascinating look at a director working with her crew and actors." 4 cats

Michael says (upon a second viewing): I find Catherine Breillat pretty fascinating. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and that her apparently heavy-handed approach to filmmaking turns some people off. While I think FAT GIRL is her best film (of the ones I have seen) and definitely the most cinematic, I think SEX IS COMEDY is her most accessible. Ironically, it is also a film that was made as a direct response to the controversy that developed from FAT GIRL, so I’m not sure how accessible it is without the viewer first seeing FAT GIRL. (The Chlotrudis members who had not seen FAT GIRL didn’t seem to be bothered by that fact, but I’m sure you get much more out of the experience after having seen FAT GIRL.)

"SEX IS COMEDY is a metafilm, detailing the filming of a seduction scene from FAT GIRL. An actress (Anne Parillaud) plays Jeanne, a director (the stand-in for Breillat herself) who is trying to make a film that revolves around a raw, unflinching sex scene. The problem is, her male lead is wearing a big, prosthetic penis, and would rather clown for the crew than take Jeanne’s direction, and her female lead can’t stand him. As is often the case in her films (particularly ANATOMY OF HELL) Breillat’s dialogue, particularly as spoken by Jeanne, comes across as preachy and obvious, but it’s a matter of style, and for me, it works. Jeanne discusses the inherent natures of man and woman with her assistant director as she struggles to pull her film together. In addition to the difficulties she faces with her lead actors, she must struggle with uncooperative weather, uncomfortable extras, and her own uncontrollable emotions as she tries to pull the difficult sex scene together.

"Breillat beautifully captures the farcical and non-sexual elements of filming the scene then follows up with the scene itself, and the power of what the film can do. After seeing all the artifice and falsity, the viewer is unprepared for the emotional force with which the actual scene strikes. Therein lies the irony. FAT GIRL was banned in Ontario for depicting sex with a minor and showing an erect penis. In SEX IS COMEDY, Breillat clearly shows that the actress was not a minor and that the penis was fake. She showed that filming the scene was far from sexual, and how foolish censors are when they tend to forget that a film is not the act itself. (She hammers this point home again in the introduction to ANATOMY OF HELL when a disclaimer reminds us that it is a work of fiction, and that the more intimate scenes by the lead were performed by a body double.) SEX IS COMEDY is also a terrific portrait of a female director in action, and dealing with work in ways far different than a male director would probably handle it. It’s a singular, unique vision that has until now been absent from the screen. 4 cats"

Carolyn says: "A funny movie about the filming of a controversial sex scene. It was fun but I don’t think I got anything long-lasting from it. Parts felt a bit overdone, but it was interesting to hear the director’s thoughts. Harking back to RECONSTRUCTION, assuming those were her thoughts initially and she didn’t edit them from the initial filming to the filming about the filming. 3.5 cats
Bruce says: "Slightly reminiscent of Truffault’s DAY FOR NIGHT, Catherine Breillat pays homage to the travails of filmmaking with SEX IS COMEDY. Jeanne (Anne Parillaud) the director is trying to film a scene which involves nudity and sexual intercourse. The actor (Grégoire Colin) and actress (Roxane Mesquida), both tempestuous teenagers, hate each other. Their kisses have no spark, no chemistry. How on earth will they be able to carry off a hot sex scene?

"The actor is a complainer, one with a million excuses why nothing is his fault. He is insecure and nervous about performing in the nude. To assuage his fears, the director decides to have a prosthetic erection constructed for the actor to wear. Much anguish surround sow the device will be attached and whether is might accidentally show on film before the moment when the actor is supposed to be aroused. The actress has her own problems. She has no interest in the actor or the film and rehearses her scenes with a vacant stare. Hardly convincing.

"While the viewer is set up to await how the problems with the actor and actress will be resolved, the big picture becomes more focused. As immature and unprofessional as the actors might be, they are no match for the director. She constantly displays signs of immaturity herself; she openly disdains her actors; she confuses personal emotions with professional concerns; and she is wildly insecure, largely because she herself is unprepared for the work she is demanding others to do. Constantly screaming about continuity, her priorities are precariously out of order. One wonders what she is worried about until it becomes evident that she has not done her homework. The sex scene is more than a bit foggy in her mind. To clear things up, the director gets other film crew members in bed with her to block the action.

"At one point I was beginning to wonder if the director had any skills whatsoever. Then the actor confesses that he doesn’t think he is handsome enough and begins to wonder why he was cast. The director quickly calms him down with, “You make people think you’re handsome.” It is a telling moment; she may know what she is doing after all. Her neuroses simply overshadow her talent. Anne Parillaud (LA FEMME NIKITA) is magnificent in the role of the neurotic, predatory director. I wish I had seen this film before award nominations for she is truly deserving of recognition. 3.5 cats"