Home Video Hovel: Desire, by David Bax
Desire is actually only the home video release name of Laurent Bouhnik’s new film. It’s known in its native country of France as Q for reasons I don’t know or care to know. In general, to not think much about this movie is a far more welcome prospect than pondering its nauseatingly shallow intentions. Were Bouhnik content to be solely a practitioner of erotica, he’d be a fine hand at it. Unfortunately, he coats his tale in such smug pretensions, one can’t even enjoy the titillation.
Déborah Révy plays Cécile, a young woman who sort of has a boyfriend (Johnny Amaro) but he doesn’t mind her having sexual encounters at will with, say, a mechanic she picks up at a bar (Gowan Didi) or the mechanic’s girlfriend (Helene Zimmer) or just some guy she meets on the ferry. Really, that’s the plot of the film. It’s a chronicle of Cécile’s trysts and the trysts that her mere presence seems to inspire in others.
Given that the chief prerequisite for being cast in this film must have been how game they were, not how talented, the actors are surprisingly even-keeled and competent. Zimmer is particularly convincing as the shy girl discovering her more extroverted streak. Révy, who carries the lion’s share of the film, isn’t given much of an opportunity to truly act since her character is a lame device who doesn’t even really make sense in that regard. The best that can be said is that she keeps her performance on the rails as much as the screenplay will allow her to.
On its surface (and the film is mostly surface), it’s a rumination of some kind on the topic of desire. Really, however, it just seems to be a forum for writer/director Bouhnik to play out his submissive fantasies. Cécile is intriguingly in charge at all times. She tells her partners what they can and can’t do, what she’s going to do, where and when it’s all going to take place. Yet this tactic fails to connect because the supporting characters never seem to make the choice to enter into this agreement or even to have the capability to do so. Cécile takes control not because she’s playing a dominant role for the satisfaction of both parties but simply because everyone around her is too stupid to do anything themselves. It’s Bouhnik who’s actually choosing to engage in a sex act and we’re being made to watch it. The curative properties of Cécile’s forcefulness on her conquests is perhaps the filmmaker’s attempt to justify the fact that it gets him off.
Most infuriatingly is Bouhnik’s apparent guilt at how much he enjoys Cécile. This reveals itself in a supremely odd, last-second moralization scene wherein we are meant to believe that our heroine behaves the way she does because she doesn’t have a father anymore. It would be insulting if it weren’t so confusing.
Again, this could have been worth something had Bouhnik been more straightforward in his approach instead of reaching for a purpose that isn’t there and doing so through an annoyingly, aggressively uninteresting lead character. The ephemeral pleasures of Desire can be more easily found with a quick Google search.