Nights of the Round Bed, 19 July 2008
Author: DriesVermeulenDV8 ([email protected]) from Brugge, Belgium
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
Following his ambitious yet poorly received LES CHIENNES, Michel Lemoine retreated to undemanding and therefore foolproof fluff with such episodic girlie shows like LES PETITES SAINTES Y TOUCHENT and LES CONFIDENCES EROTIQUES D’UN LIT TROP ACCEUILLANT (literally : The Erotic Confessions of a Too Inviting Bed !) before embarking on what was to become his most idiosyncratic work, the sex & horror hybrid LES WEEKENDS MALEFIQUES DU COMTE ZAROFF. While it perfectly accomplishes its primary purpose of unveiling as many lovely soft porn starlets as can be crammed within an hour and a half, CONFIDENCES clearly shows fatigue setting in, its maker resorting to formula film-making and recycling many stylistic devices that worked for him in the past (note the many mirror images employed during sex scenes), not to mention his by now repertory cast of actresses. Fortunately for admirers of the female form, these ladies run the gamut from pretty to perfect, with nary a dog in sight !
Go go dancer Dominique (much-missed Olga Georges-Picot, who flung herself from her apartment window in 1997 and whose eclectic career encompassed everything from Alain Resnais’ art-house hit JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME to occasional gay pornographer Jacques Scandelari’s glossy but empty BRIGADE MONDAINE) bumps into a former lover and takes him back to her place where he’s immediately intrigued by her circular bed. Having bought the piece of furniture at the local flea market, she recounts how it has seemingly followed her throughout her adult life, turning up at various mostly sexual occasions, confusingly shown as erotic episodes involving other actresses with differing character names ! This device has lead many less attentive sources to accredit the movie’s narration to the bed itself (à la Sam Weston’s BETWEEN THE SHEETS) and only makes sense when Dominique reveals late in the proceedings that she has made it all up in an attempt to Sheherazade-like retain her paramour’s attention this time around in a twist superbly complemented by Georges-Picot’s sad-eyed beauty which made her so right for Bernard Borderie’s CATHERINE, his undeservedly snubbed supposed follow-up to his long-running ANGELIQUE series.
Photographed with his customary precision by Philippe Théaudière and scored on auto pilot by Guy Bonnet, both Lemoine regulars by now, the movie benefits from extended displays of female physical splendor. A good starting point for the ignorant as well as a welcome reminder for the veteran voyeur, it offers a long line-up of fondly remembered or unjustly forgotten stunners like the effervescent Anne Libert, prominently featured in the early works of Jean-François Davy and Spanish sleaze maestro Jess Franco, tricked into an impromptu threesome with a supposedly jilted fiancé and his buddy. Naughty Nathalie Zeiger’s childlike capacity for wreaking havoc was well exploited by Lemoine in LES CHIENNES (not to mention Daniel Daërt’s near companion piece LES FELINES) and here she provides yet another memorable tease as a pretend underage con artiste milking portly senior citizen Georges Guéret, a welcome character actor in many a skin flick, for all he’s worth. Another suicide victim, ravishing redhead Marie-Georges Pascal (memorable in Davy’s BANANES MECANIQUES), appears in perhaps the picture’s most baffling sequence as she performs a little pony dance on the bed for her whip-cracking elderly choreographer !
The Lemoine household must have been going through a rough patch at the time, as the director has cast his spouse and all time class act Janine Reynaud in what must surely rank as the least glamorous role of her career, appearing with her magnificent red mane done up in curlers at the hairdresser’s and solidly slapped around by future hardcore stud Jacques Insermini, her husband from FELINES ! Just past 40 at the time and still a world class beauty with screen presence to spare, she suffers the additional narrative indignity of having to battle for her portly lover’s favors with Marie-Hélène Règne, a little blond upstart half her age ! Creamy Martine Azencot and her incredible rack, burnt on this reviewer’s retina since their twin appearances in Lemoine’s best film LES DESAXEES, again leave an indelible impression in a tasteful group grope – Mikey taking full advantage of his perpetrator’s privileges by putting himself at the center, squeezing them tickets like a man possessed ! – set to the strains of Wagner’s “Tannhaüser”. Ah, nothing like a bit of culture to get the juices flowing !