Irish Film Institute -Sexual Life of the Belgians, The

Sexual Life of the Belgians, The

Director: Jan Bucquoy

This autobiographical first feature by a well known and slightly notorious Belgian writer, designer, producer and conceptual artist turns out to be a quite charming and often funny satire of secual manners and mores between 1950 and 1978. Not as harsh as Belgians apparently expected from Jan Bucquoy, the film is funny and sexy enough to find art house approval. According to the narration, spoken by Bucquoy himself, his interest in sex began at his mother’s breast, but growing up in a small provincial town with bickering, ineffectual parents proved stultifying. One escape was an immensely romatic visit to the cinema with his sister to see Johnny Guitar (the Victor Young theme music for Nicholas Ray’s film crops up occasionally, and Peggy Lee sings the brief title song at the end of Bucquoy’s picture).
His first sexual experience was with a schoolgirl who allowed him to look but not touch; later, on a drab seaside holiday in a caravan, an older boy furthers his sex education during the screening of a Laurel and Hardy two reeler.
Eventually, Jan winds up in Brussels and becomes a political activist of the ’60s. Here there are sexual encounters galore before he winds up in a disastrous, short lived marriage that results in two children. After this is over, the affairs with women continue; one night he finds himself involved with both a mother and her free-thinking daughter.
There’s a charmeing insouciance to all of this, as Bucquoy tells his story candidly and with a sharp sense of humour that mocks Belgian stuffiness and parochialism. Jean Henri Compere is fine as the souliful hero. Among the parade of woman he marries and Michele Shor as his ultra liberated aunt.

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