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Written by Nobuhiro Hosoki
Q&A with director Jean Claude Brisseau
"Exterminating Angels" is a highly sensual, ingenious glimpse into human fragility, partially inspired by director Jean Claude Brisseau's personal brush with the law--a sexual harassment case--involving his previous work "Secret Things," which took a voyeuristic approach in making an experimental film about the taboo of female pleasure in front of an audiences. (He luckily got all the charges dismissed.)
This incident didn't stop him from tackling another envelope-pushing project. This time he put his alter ego in the character of Francois(Frederic Van Den Driessceh), who holds a series of auditions to recruit young women willing to be aroused on screen. Some eagerly take off their clothes, as if the actresses are dying to have a role in a movie. But his intension is to capture sexual transgressions of women on film. He initially becomes a passive observer, not so much to reveal his perspective or to take in the action.
Then he narrows his search down to three hopefuls: the straightforward Julie (Lise Bellynck), the unstable exhibitionist Carlotte (Maroussia Dubreuil), and a tiny, fresh face, Stephanie (Marie Allan). But even with his wife's warning about getting into a mess of threats, soon he boldly moves straight into their sole focus on female bodies, not realizing the volatility of chemistry that they have their in subconscious.
Throughout the film is narration that adds a third dimension of two fallen angels in black evening dresses who loom over the narrative to give personal advice and supervise his rather doomed project. Some of the scenes. while explicit, are brilliantly executed, such as sustained masturbation sequences and mutual pleasuring at crowded restaurants without touching food and champagne.
Director Brisseau puts his pulse-quickening raw sex romps on display to manipulate and provoke viewers to come up with their own judgments. This rather autobiographical tale seems confessional on one level, but on the other hand, shows no point of dishonesty, always treading a thin moral borderline that people often take advantage of.
Written (in French, with English subtitles) and directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau
Director of photography:Wilfrid Sempé
Edited by Maria Luisa Garcia
Music by Jean Musy
Produced by Mr. Brisseau, Miléna Poylo and Gilles Sacuto
Released by IFC First Take.
Running time: 100 minutes. This film is not rated.
Cast: Frédéric Van Den Driessche (François)
Maroussia Dubreuil (Charlotte)
Lise Bellynck (Julie)
Marie Allan (Stéphanie)
Raphaële Godin (Apparition 1/Rebecca) and Margaret Zenou (Apparition 2).