Exterminating Angels Jean-Claude Brisseau

Exterminating Angels Jean-Claude Brisseau
In 2005, French director Jean-Claude Brisseau was found guilty of sexually harassing two young actresses who had been persuaded to masturbate while auditioning for Secret Things, his film about female sexual pleasure. Brisseau avoided prison and was fined, allowing him to translate this experience into a new movie. Stylish yet pretentious, Exterminating Angels is a "film within a film.” Handsome 40something director François (Frédéric Van Den Driessche) is making an artsy movie about how women reach orgasm. He starts by auditioning pretty, young actresses, most of whom turn him down flat. The exceptions are the seductive Charlotte (Maroussia Dubreuil) and the submissive Julie (Lise Bellynck), who first "enjoy” a meal at a posh restaurant. Stéphanie, the sultry blonde waitress who serves them (Marie Allan), enters this lesbian triangle, which plays out before François’s video camera in an explicit test shoot. François has found his cast but right before filming starts, Charlotte suffers a violent breakdown. François ditches her, Julie flakes out and Stéphanie abandons ship out of loyalty to Charlotte. Instantly, François’s film and life fall apart. Brisseau rescues Exterminating Angels from porn by bathing his sex scenes (François never takes part) in artful light and shadow. Though, let’s be honest, this footage is hot. Unfortunately, the long existential dialogues, François’s constant brooding, flashbacks to his dead grandmother and the two angels turn this serious drama into self-parody. Angels? Yes, two babe angels in black tank tops (think Robert Palmer videos, circa1985) mastermind François’s downfall. The angels reappear throughout the film, visible only to the audience. Brisseau reveals in an extensive interview found in the special features that the angels were not in his early drafts. Perhaps he should have stuck with his original plan. Another special feature, a deleted scene, offers no revelations. It’s tempting to say that Brisseau is exorcising his harassment case through this film. It’s also tempting to state that the actresses here aren’t the only ones wanking. (Mongrel Media)