7 April 2018 | lazarillo
Flavia Flament vs. David Hamiliton
This French TV movie is basically the account of the juvenile rape/sexual assault TV personality Flavia Flament suffered (or allegedly suffered) at the hands of pervy British photographer/filmmaker David Hamilton. There is no reason to doubt Flament's story, although Hamilton's suicide two weeks after she made her accusation public could be interpreted just as easily as guilt or innocence. I certainly don't want to take away from Flament's Gallic "me-too" moment here or cast aspersions on the feminist statement this movie makes. But David Hamilton does make for a pretty easy target. This is a guy who basically made a career out of filming older teenage and young adult women in various stages of undress, and photographing even younger female models like Eva Ionesco (who recently directed a similar movie called "MY little Princess", the villain there being her own mother). It's a little TOO easy to portray him today as a pedophile and a rapist. I take Flament's story at face value, but Hamilton's work and reputation could just as easily render him an unfair target of publicity-seeking opportunists as it could be used to substantiate his guilt.
The movie does make the somewhat unfortunate choice of a wrap-around story where the adult Flament (Emily DeQuenne) suffers fainting spells and goes to a female psychiatrist to recover memories of the sexual assault she suffered at 13. While I'm sure this is perfectly true, memories "recovered" by psychiatrists are probably the most suspect when it comes to false accusations of abuse. Psychiatrists have been known plant false memories of abuse in children and distorted memories of teenagers and adults. Regardless, cinematically, the flashback scenes with the young Flavia (Lou Gable) on the beach with her mother and sister where she was "discovered" and photographed by the already-famous photographer are far more compelling than the scenes of the adult Flavia talking to her psychiatist. And going back and forth between the present or past in such a short movie also tends to detract from this being a PERSONAL account (the strength of French films like "My Little Princess") because the movie simply doesn't spend enough time to develop a strong relationship with either the adult or the adolescent Flament (although Lou Gable fares better than Emilie Dequenne). The result is perhaps too much of a tilt from personal story to lurid sensationalism.
David Hamilton himself is at least not portrayed as an obvious mustache-twirling villain (and there have not been numerous accusations made against him, unlike with someone like Harvey Weinstein). It is a little shocking that Flavia's mother thinks nothing of leaving her adolescent daughter alone in the company of a nude middle age man (Hamilton apparently did his photography in the nude), even if he is a famous photographer and his wife was around. It's hard to imagine even in 1980's France, people were that naive or blase.
This movie is Flament's personal story and it deserves to be taken at face value, but I'm personally wary of this present-day trend of portraying the teenage girls of the past (and apparently their mothers) as impossibly naive victims and all men back then as nothing but predatory rapists. I'd at least recommend also watching Catherine Breillat's "36 Fillette", a similar film made back in the 80's-era setting of this film, which gives a different, and in my experience more believable, portrayal of the sexual mores of this era.