15 May 2004 | Nodriesrespect
A Gem Rescued from Obscurity
This has never been a very popular film, not even on the less than critical porn circuit. The recently deceased Francis Leroi was a well-liked and surprisingly respected figure with roots stretching back to the French New Wave of the sixties before choosing (rather than being forced) to make a living from adult cinema, only occasionally resorting to the odd nom de porn (Jim Clack, John W. Dark). Unlike, say, the perpetually hell-raising Gérard Kikoine (ADORABLE LOLA), Leroi was more of a gentle subversive, cheekily turning preconceived notions on their heads with a string of well-received adult films like JE SUIS A PRENDRE (containing Brigitte Lahaye's career performance) and his leather and chains opus REVES DE CUIR with Zara Whites.
French video and DVD company Blue One who owns the entire impressive Alpha France back catalog encompassing most of the French theatrical treasures have given new life to one of Leroi's most overlooked gems on a superb value 3 for 1 DVD including his LE PENSION DES FESSES NUES and MA MERE ME Prostitute.
A prototypical pencil pusher (Claude Valmont, who REALLY looks the part and is one of the most surprising sex performers you're ever likely to see) has his daily routine thoroughly upset when a chance encounter with a lovely young student (the exquisite Cathy Stewart at a very early stage in her longterm career) leads him to a life of good-natured depravity, trailing a wealthy libertine (Edwige Faillel), getting involved in all sorts of shady deals along the way. The plot is handled in an ever so slightly surreal fashion by Leroi, with inventive little touches (like the old lady at the railway station who keeps the key to Valmont's locker in return for his daily dose of lamb stew) that stick in the mind. For what purports to be a comedy, the tone is remarkably sad and melancholy, with characters stuck in the humdrum routine of life, Leroi's critique of his raincoat-clad audience perhaps ? Despite the often unlikely looking performers (Valmont, the obese guy at the porn theater, the rather matronly Faillel), the sex scenes have a no holds barred enthusiasm to them, perhaps best illustrated by a spirited threesome involving Faillel, Valmont and stalwart Diane Dubois who plays a frisky secretary at the bank owned by Faillel's husband.
Considerably better made and acted (furthermore by Marie-Claude Viollet as Valmont's mousy wife turned tantalizing temptress by the final reel) than most French porn at the time, this is one spectacularly undervalued movie worthy of rediscovery.