17 October 2017 | lor_
Serious Adult Film treatment of the classic by underrated auteur
The coming attraction trailer for "Belle De Jour" by Kris Kramski advises one to watch for it on theaters as well as video, unusual for a 2000 release, and attesting to the fact that the auteur as usual shot on 35mm rather than video. Carrying on the "porno chic" tradition made famous over two decades earlier by Radley Metzger, KK delivers a cold, meticulous feature that avoids pandering to a porn audience but instead stands the test of time as a real movie, albeit with XXX content.
Touted as her feature film debut, Jessica Drake is outstanding in underplaying her role as the housewife who questions her life style and embarks on a foray into the world of prostitution. Though she gives us many clues with lots of voice-over narration, her existential crisis remains mysterious. Best think about JD's low-key performance is that she stays in character, even during many hardcore sex scenes (previous IMDb reviewer must have watched a censored version or fell asleep in asserting that Jessica is merely nude but not having any sex in this film, quite the contrary).
Kramski's adaptation, with the scene in which the Madam names Jessica "Belle de Jour" explicitly mentioning the Luis Bunuel film from the '60s, has concise sex scenes (8 in all) and precise acting and line readings that go along with the elliptical editing to distance the viewer, the opposite of typical porn's spoon-feeding approach of endless, barely edited sex acts. The sudden ending, with voice-over, fits the story perfectly but also has an alienating effect. I greatly admire KK's work, and would hope that his high-quality Adult features regain prominence (no reissue/archive distributor like Something Weird, Alpha Blue Archives or Vinegar Syndrome has seen fit to revive his Sin City output) even if they are out of step with today's audience tastes.
James Bonn, once recognized as a terrific actor but since forgotten, is pitch-perfect as the banal villain of the piece, a subtle manipulator who seemingly gets off scot-free, while Tina Tyler is fabulous as the knowing madam, a near lookalike for decade after porn icon Dana DeArmond, right down to the trademark bangs hairdo. Euro porn vet Backey Jakic is arresting as a truly loathsome bad guy in a decadent atmosphere that must have impressed Metzger, whose career was over by the time this film was shot. And adding to the film's power is KK's careful inclusion of kinky content, pepping up (sexually) otherwise overly pretentious scenes.