From our incomplete perspective, Brisseau has progressed from a boring social realist (1988’s Sound and Fury) to a genre-bending provocateur. He knows how to shoot a compelling scene—and that’s true even of the parts of Exterminating Angels that don’t involve naked women pleasuring each other while anthropologist-auteur François (van den Dreissche) impassively watches. “I can only film what I know!” François snaps when his wife (Bonnet) complains. Given the film’s self-pitying autobiographical elements, all signs suggest that Brisseau agrees.
The movie has nothing to do with Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel
(1962), and derives its title from two actual angels who control
François’s actions, denying him culpability. One of them also wants to
sleep with him—par for the course. Still, Brisseau’s Brechtian
lighting, use of classical music and unique comic tone suggest his
artistry has grown in proportion to his skeeviness.