Breillat's movie begins with Jeanne (Parillaud) directing a scene on a windy beach. She's not happy. Her young actors (Colin, Mesquida) are not kissing as passionately as she wants, and she knows the chill's due only in part to the weather: they don't like each other. Moreover, the actor is arrogant, moody, probably dubious about being directed by a woman, and nervy about a prosthetic penis he has to wear for a long scene where his character uses emotional blackmail to persuade the girl that penetrative sex is okay. While the actress is happier with Jeanne, she still finds it hard to relax for the camera, and is yet to be told of the false dick and the degree of nudity expected. Meanwhile, Jeanne must battle not only with cast, crew and climate, but also with her own doubts and bouts of creative block. Breillat's prime subject is how a film-maker may mould ideas, instincts and experiences into art, using as raw materials human individuals and the illusionism of cinema: an illusionism more than ever necessary if what's wanted is a plausible picture of sexual desire and passion. To attain what we will accept as 'real', the director must pretend, pontificate, flirt, seduce, caress, cajole, cavil, provoke jealousy and discontent, provide security and finally comfort, all in pursuit of lies that look like truth when flickered on to a screen.
Cast and crew