Secret Things

Director: Jean-Claude Brissea

France| 2002. English subtitles. Colour. dts stereo. 115 min.

Though his work has been little seen outside of France, writer-director Jean-Claude Brisseau’s reputation as one of the most terribles of his country’s enfants precedes him. This 2002 film—chosen as the best of that year by no less an authority than the prestigious film journal Cahiers du cinema—offers ample evidence as to why. It’s a wild and woolly fable about two young women—a barmaid (Sabrina Seyvecou) and a stripper (Coralie Revel)—who conspire to work their way up society’s rigid ladder, using their considerable sexual wiles to topple all who stand in their way. They’re damn good at it too, until they meet their match in the implacable son (Fabrice Deville) of a powerful bank president, whose notorious command over women has led two former lovers to set themselves on fire, and whose costumed sex orgies suggest a highbrow porn movie directed by Jacques Rivette.
‘Society proves every day that merit is all that matters,’ voices one of the movie’s characters early on, before Brisseau proceeds to fillet the notion for our collective amusement, locating the roots of power in sex and unmasking the perverted peccadilloes of the privileged with even greater comic elegance than Stanley Kubrick did in Eyes Wide Shut.

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