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Anatomie d’Enfer

Director: Catherine Breillat

FRANCE| 2004| FRENCH W/ENGLISH SUBTITLES| COLOUR| DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO| 87 MINS


The central preoccupation of Catherine Breillat’s work is women’s sexuality. As Breillat says, ‘I take sexuality as a subject, not as an object.’ Breillat’s films are uniquely concerned with a woman’s understanding of her own sexualityand they consistently push the boundaries of representation beyond the limits of acceptability. Sometimes those limits seem remarkably pusillanimous; in Romance,for instance, Breillat shocked the world by showing an erect penis in an art-house movie. Rocco Siffredi is back in Breillat’s new film and there’s much more trashing of the rules of middle-class decorum to come.
Based on Pornocratie,Breillat’s 2001 novel, Anatomie de l’Enfer explores the regions of women’s bodies and sexuality that have been characterized throughout thousands of years of Western mythology as monstrous, excessive, unsightly, smelly, repulsive. The inquiry takes a brutally simple premise: a beautiful woman (Amira Casar) invites a man (Siffredi) who loathes women to spend some time with her. She will pay him to watch, she says, ‘where I’m unwatchable.’ Four successive nights in a country house transpire in distinctly formal terms. He arrives at the chateau and proceeds to the appointed room. She is naked on the bed; he sits in a chair (mostly). They talk. In her discourse, she explicitly addresses and rejects the taboos of Western psycho-sexual mythology. It has been said that Breillat’s films about sex are not erotic. Nor do they aim to be. A film about knowledge, Anatomie de l’enfer asks the question, ‘On what was this terror founded?’

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