dr. cédric kahn
st. sophie guillemin, charles berling, arielle dombasle, robert kramer (I).

L'Ennui means "the night" in French, and what a night this is! So warm, and befitting the gay Parisian scene, postcoitally humid and smelling of dog crap.

L'Ennui follows a philosopher's life as he becomes increasingly infatuated by the 17 year old, sexually prodigious Cecilia. Already in the throes of a farcical divorce, Martin is dragged further and further into the night of human reason by Cecilia until his entire life becomes a classic farce. This night is the darkness of human rationalism and reason. Martin comments to his general practitioner that he does not want to become a Freudian robot, ruled by a "tyrannical penis and a tiny brain".

In his night, he will not even be ruled by such easily defined lusts. Instead, his descent takes him into the total absence of reason. By the end of the movie, the philosophical Martin who at first is seemingly ruled by his tyrannical penis, is instead completely devoid of any conscious volition, only showing a primal urge to bonk Cecilia, over and over and over again. And bonk he does, with a whole slew of psychotic symptoms. It is at the end of Martin's night that Cecilia's true form is revealed. She is at once incubus and literal succubus, as her face imposes herself onto the prostitute that Martin has hired to suck him off. As an incubus, she feeds off his thoughts. When we first see Cecilia we see a curvaceous and horny schoolgirl, a rather unappealing and ditzy fuckmachine. By the end of the film, she has transformed into a predatory sexual goddess of myth, the type that lies in wait in abandoned cabins for woodsmen to come calling, the kind that is calculating and cruelly manipulative. With this wealth of thought, it is unfortunate then that the movie itself is a fair sized hunka hunka disappointment.

Don't get me wrong, the camerawork is brilliant, but it is unmaintained. Near the beginning we see Cecilia's first victim, sitting by himself in a hostess bar submerged in blood red light, drained. If only the movie had been crushed down to 30 minutes less, getting rid of a substantial amount of soft porn, which abounds in exuberant amounts, and is porny, but not particularly soft.

When will French directors learn that there is only so much you can do with a couple fucking?! The question is so simple, yet to the French it must be inexplicable. It is so quintessentially French to be frustratingly incomprehensible in that way! In L'Ennui there is no real point for the sex to continue apart from getting the audience horny, especially not when that audience gets the same treatment from every other art director in Europe. Full frontals are passe, it's Dogma that's hot right now darling (even though it stinks of film school exercise, and the new video for Blur is apparently in direct contradiction of Dogma dogma, not to mention which it is apparently boring as fuck, which brings us nicely back to L'Ennui.) Admittedly the structure of the plot is fascinating, incorporating the classic farce where the humour comes from the plot and not the characterization. This is true because we hate nearly all of the characters in this movie. Another farce similarity is the unheroism exhibited by Martin. It is not antiheroism, because there is nothing even particularly repellent about his behaviour, nothing antiheroically evil. Instead it's all about what an unthinking moron Martin is, and to the depths he will go in order to get past his implied impotence.

Huan-tzin Goh
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