DIRECTOR: Bertrand Bonello | WRITER: Bertrand Bonello | CAST: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Jérémie Renier, Dominique Blanc, Ovidie, Titof | France
Jacques Laurent (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is a soixante-huitard pornographer, retired for 20 years, who is back making another porno and finding that the kind of porn-as-a-political/artistic statement he once made is passé in a world that wants nothing but porn clips of money shots. His long-estranged son Joseph (Jérémie Renier), meanwhile, thinks his fellow radical students are nothing but bourgeois poseurs. Can father and son find common ground and be reconciled? That, I think, is what Bertrand Bonello was trying to dramatize in his ponderous and hopelessly pretentious Le pornographe. An irony that Bonello doesn’t seem to appreciate is that Laurent’s vision of politically-aware, artistic porn — he wants the lead actress of the porno within Le pornographe to let the lead actor ejaculate in her mouth to show her character’s love for him — isn’t much better than the porno’s producer’s insistence that the actor ejaculate on her face. (The producer wins out on this one, as Bonello thoughtfully lets us see.) The acting in Le pornographe is poor, shockingly so in Jean-Pierre Léaud’s case; deprived of his youthful glamour, Léaud proves to be no actor at all. In fact, it’s only the real-life porn actors Ovidie and Titof who, even aside from their hard-core sex scene (which is filmed from a middle distance, except for the closeup of Titof’s money shot), manage to breathe life into their parts. Bonello’s directing is as clumsy and inert as Léaud’s acting, and he sure doesn’t wear his influences lightly, larding the screen with liberal echoes of Bresson and Pasolini, and I’m guessing probably Eustache, too. Feh.