Infidelity: Sex Stories 2
This example of French art house cinema opens with a man, alone, jacking it. It’s full on, and ends with a money shot, which is embarrassing for all. Make no mistake, this is porn. An attempt to make a philosophical female-friendly sitcom with sex scenes derived from an overarching narrative, this film instead delivers a couple of hours trying not to throw up. Infidelity revolves around three couples where the men cheat and the women try to come to terms with it. Also, they have sex.
If you really must watch the trailer, here it is. It’s about 90% safe for work.
The writer and director, Ovidie, is a fairly well established name in the French pornography industry, which one imagines makes Ovidie a household name across the channel. Her life reads much as if it were a loose and unlikely plot for pornography itself – Ovidie holds a degree in philosophy which she claims to have studied only to understand porn and sexuality better. She hails from a middle class background and entered porn neither for the money nor the sex. She is a staunch feminist, and sees pornography as empowering for women. Her positions on sex (no pun, per se, but chosen with a small sense of clinical accuracy) can be found in her book, Sexe Philo, co-written with Francis Métivier (another pop philosopher) and published earlier this year. Efforts in directing aside, her views on sex and femininity appears completely rational, and her assertions that women enjoy pornography as much as men is certainly not controversial in today’s world.
Infidelity 2: Sex Stories was written by Ovidie with women in mind, and her artistic intent can be found on the website for the film:
“More than a movie about sexuality, Infidelity is a comedy about couple relationships, love and differences between men and women. With a small touch of cynism, it makes us delve into three couples moods, who try to overcome lethargy and to rekindle their couple life by having affairs and new refreshing experiences.”
This is not what the film is about.
Any philosophical, social, romantic or artistic agendas Ovidie may have wanted to underlay the film with is absent. Instead, we are given stilted and one dimensional blow-up dolls announcing their thoughts loudly. What is left is a strange hybrid between an episode of Eastenders where the Mitchell brothers go to France (I haven’t seen it in a while, this is as up-to-date my references are likely to get) and the type of videos you sit your grandmother down to watch while you record her horrified stare that reminds one irresistibly of The Ring.
The characters are generally poorly thought out; despite the husbands being cheating columns of meat, the three wives all reveal early on that they are OK with the cheating, removing any tension of being discovered. There is only a single voice present in the script, and one rather suspects that the voice belongs to Ovidie. The ‘feminism’ angle exists, although it is ethereal – all the men are cheats and unlikable, and it is the women they frequently flop around on top of that end up having the power. This isn’t really a problem, and it is refreshing (is that the right word?) to see naked people actually thinking about why they’re wobbling around in front of each other, but other dirty-film reviewers of Infidelity have taken the opportunity to denounce feminism in general, and Ovidie in particular.
The subplot of an ex-mistress turning into a bunny boiler by leaving miniature cardboard coffins on the front doorstep is bizarre, to say the least, but the interplay between one couple, where the wife joins the husband in his seedy world, is actually sort of sweet when they aren’t fucking. There is something here. It’s slight, but one can almost see what Ovidie was trying to do – create a film where intimacy and titillation and love all drew from each other. But it fails.