1 February 2007 | Nodriesrespect
There but for the Grace of God...
For some reason (personal ambition or lack of in-house directorial talent ?), hugely successful French porn producer Marc Dorcel decided to try his hand at making his own movies in the early '90s. The results it must be said weren't half bad, including many vehicles for his then current contract starlet Laure Sainclair (the tremendously popular LA RUEE VERS LAURE among them) and the splendid CITIZEN SHANE, by far his masterpiece. The fact that his movies those of a neophyte filmmaker, after all are ultimately barely distinguishable from those made by the likes of Alain Payet or Michel Barny (a/k/a Didier- Philippe Gérard) merely stress how much importance Dorcel attached to his so-called "house style" and how the hired help had to adhere to its carefully manufactured image of the idle yet beautiful rich decked out in Armani suits (for him) and lacy lingerie (for her) living and loving in almost impossibly luxurious surroundings, eerily reminiscent of Hugh Hefner's "Playboy philosophy" of the '60s and '70s. A corner-cutting device that sets Dorcel apart from his cronies however is his extensive reliance on voice-over narration to get the plot across without unduly burdening his performers' thespian prowess or lack thereof.
The Monaco-esquire tax paradise island of San Clito (!) is basically run by a devious pair of oil billionaire brothers, Sasha and Dimitri Piroshki, played by genre veterans Christophe Clark and Philippe Soine, who have located the last remaining offspring of the country's former royal family in princess Sophia (Brit beauty Roxanne Hall, who delivered a totally charming acting performance few considered her capable of in David Fleetwood's sleeper MIA) whom they have installed as a sort of operetta monarch just for show. Bored with their glamorous yet empty lives and nights spent at bustling sex club "Le Blue Pussy", they decide on a wager for one symbolic Franc that they can turn any prostitute into a princess while callously chucking out the old model. Shades of John Landis' ever popular TRADING PLACES then, rather than the PRINCE AND THE PAUPER type set-up the title seems to indicate. Lusty live show performer Helga (exotic, part-Vietnamese class act Coralie Trinh Thi, future co-director of Virginie Despentes' scandalous BAISE-MOI !) turns out to be the lucky lady landing in the lap of luxury with the pure and innocent Sophia having to fend off the advances of the night club's lecherous owner Fernand, portrayed with lip-smacking gusto by that inimitable Italian Roberto Malone, who made a memorable Cesare Borgia in Nick Moore's CASTLE OF LUCRETIA. While tutor David Perry tries mostly in vain to teach her the finer points of etiquette, Helga proves far more interested in the guy's bedside manner, brutally bereft of the male attention she enjoyed on a regular basis at her former place of employment. Speaking of which, Sophia concedes to sell cigarettes and prophylactics at the club, having been taken under the wing of sympathetic working girl Laura (the radiant Olivia Del Rio) and her boyfriend Jérôme (mean-looking Richard Langin) who turns out to have ulterior motives for the naive princess.
Nicely photographed (if a tad too brightly lit) by Serge De Beaurivage, yet seemingly edited with a meat-cleaver, this movie turns out to be quite emblematic of the Dorcel company's single-handed dirty movie clean-up campaign by tempting viewers with the trappings of the high life most of them presumably will never know first-hand. Fair enough, I guess, though the top-billing of contract girl Sainclair (playing Barbie, the maid) when she's just on board for a snooze of a Sapphic scene with Coralie and a quickie with bodyguard Philippe Dean strikes me as somewhat dishonest. Fortunately, the remainder of the cast deliver the goods sexually, that darn omnipresent voice-over practically strangling their every attempt at delivering dialog anyway. Coralie and pretty Perry have two hot scenes, steaming up the shower and burning down the dining room respectively. Brazilian bombshell Del Rio virtually steals the flick from the high-priced hussies with expertly performed and clearly captured back-door action, first with Langin, later with Clark in a funny classroom fantasy bit. Hall holds out till the finale when Langin forces himself on her, demanding to be repaid for his efforts, with the initially disgusted princess discovering a taste for humiliation instead. Being the first part of two, the movie ends on a cliffhanger, previews of the second installment suggesting that Sophia will take advantage of her newfound carnal knowledge to get back to where she belongs, with some help from her shapely sisters in sin of course
I can hardly wait !