Exterminating Angels

4 out of 5 stars
A STAR IS PORN Dubreuil is ready for her close-up.
A STAR IS PORN Dubreuil is ready for her close-up.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Catherine Breillat’s 2002 film declared Sex Is Comedy; compatriot Jean-Claude Brisseau’s latest could be titled Sex Is Lunacy. Essentially a thinly veiled making-of for Secret Things, his last provocation, Exterminating Angels chronicles an increasingly weary director named Franois (Van den Driessche) auditioning actresses for his project about the mysteries of female desire.

If the premise sounds simply like subtitled girl-on-girl group diddles, Brisseau daringly complicates matters by inserting all kinds of breakdowns. Franois may watch and orchestrate the soft-core sapphism, but it soon becomes clear that his plan “to convey mystical ecstasy” constantly eludes his control. “We actors are all whores for the role we want,” one hopeful avers. Maybe, but the actresses are still turned on—whether they are pleasuring themselves or each other—after Franois’s camera is turned off. Some go crazy: “I am the devil’s beloved!” Charlotte (Dubreuil) screams before destroying the set. This derangement is not anomalous but rather part of the film’s own commitment to craziness: Apparitions come and go, a staccato voice delivers cryptic dispatches (“Their great blue desert is just a chained hell without flames”). Ultimately, Brisseau wants to sex you up and freak you out. (Now playing; IFC Center.) — Melissa Anderson



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