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Pornographer, The

Le pornographe

The poster boy of ’60s French screen radicalism, Jean-Pierre Leaud has recently experienced something of a career rebirth. After his starring role in last year’s The Marcorelle Affair, here is an equally eccentric but more complex performance. Leaud plays director Jacques Laurent, a leading light of the ’70s wave of French porn, who tries to make a comeback three decades later. But his dream of dark, romantic and revolutionary erotica is out of fashion in the age of hardcore, and the scene in which Laurent experiences humiliating failure on the set is one of the most moving in recent cinema. Meanwhile Laurent’s estranged son (up-and-coming Jeremie Renier from the Dardenne brothers’ La Promesse) returns to his father’s life after attempting his own version of ’60s-style student idealism. Despite its lurid façade and some unashamedly graphic porn-shoot scenes, director Bertrand Bonello’s feature is a clever, thoughtful drama that combines Leaud’s character study with an acerbic critical take on French society, politics, sex and generational tension. Le pornographe won the FIPRESCI (International Critics) prize at Cannes.
France/ Canada, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 108 min.

The subject of some controversy on its recent release in the U.K., where the newly liberalised British Board of Film Classification imposed a few seconds of cuts to a sex scene, ‘Le pornographe’ will be shown complete at the IFC.

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