Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (2012)

It occurs to me that, given my specialties, it might be fruitful to record my opinions of the erotic/sex-related films that I watch, which I have done only very sparingly up to now.

Well, this morning, I watched a delightful surprise of a little film titled Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (currently available on Netflix). It, well, chronicles, in a documentary-like format, the lives of each member of a French family, specifically as relates to their sexual fulfillment (or lack thereof).

The conflict begins when the teenage boy in the family gets caught at school filming himself masturbating in class (it was a dare). His mother is forced to acknowledge the fact that, as is so frequently the case, we teach kids about the dangers of sex, but leave them helplessly floundering when it comes to seeking sexual fulfillment.

So, the mother embarks on a quest to open a dialogue about sex within the family, and we, the viewers, are treated in voyeuristic fashion to each member's personal sex life, from the teenager dying to lose his virginity, to the elderly widower who regularly visits a prostitute, and everything in between.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much sex was actually in this movie, and although you don't see anything explicit*, it gets really close. Consistently. But the other thing is, although it's not unerotic, the sex feels very real, not like porn sex, and it seems to serve the purpose of fleshing out the characters and not simply existing for titillation's sake. The only thing that stood out to me was the fact that I didn't notice any of the characters ever experiencing orgasm.

Nevertheless, I feel that this film portrays a very healthy, sex-positive attitude toward human sexuality, even on topics such as prostitution and exhibitionism, which are frequently sensationalized for dramatic effect. The film does not ignore the importance of contraception, and there is a healthy balance between male and female nudity. One of the characters is even bisexual.

I feel I can recommend this film highly, although I doubt most people will be in a proper frame of mind to truly enjoy it. At least with regard to my experience of the American mindset, viewers either want mindless titillation (that goes out of its way to avoid incidental male eroticism), or they want a comedy where they can be free to giggle every time a character mentions a sex act. This film is neither. It is much more enriching, and much more fulfilling, than both.

* Yep, Netflix duped me into seeing the censored US release of this film. Fucking Americans. :-\

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