Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sacre Bleu Movie: "Exhibition" (1975)

The only thing really notable about this navel gazing documentary detailing the life of a French pornographic film actress (sorry, "erotic" film actress) was its acceptance forty years ago into the mainstream New York Film Festival. While scandalous in its day, the film is an exercise in tedium, but with occasional explicit sex to wake a snoozing audience.

Claudine Beccarie is a thirty-year old porn actress. She handles all of her own job offers and representation, so Davy captures her on phone calls lining up work and trying to get paid for past performances. The hardcore sexual scenes in the film are not from any of her previous films, however. Davy sets up Beccarie and some of her co-stars to have sex on cue, and then talks to them about the psychology of what they are doing. We get to have an obligatorily uncomfortable interview with Beccarie and her mother (both are remembering Claudine's upbringing a little differently), and Beccarie's fiance, who is ten years her junior.

Unfortunately, Davy is a little more fascinated with Claudine than the viewer is. Most of the female actresses here have overly-plucked eyebrows, so they constantly wear an expression of mild surprise during the screen time. Beccarie is an attractive woman who could have had a career in mainstream films if she had chosen that route. Instead, she seems to be working on her inner demons through pornographic film making, touting her individualism and freedom.

The mid-70's decor and fashion are hilarious. Davy spends a lot of time onscreen himself, in scenes that seem very planned and artificial. Claudine's story of living in a brothel after leaving home as a teenager sounds like the plot to a soap opera she had watched pre-interview. One scene with her and an attractive young man is cringe-worthy only because the man either doesn't speak French and cannot respond to Claudine's questions and direction, or he might be mentally deficient. It's odd that we watch Claudine and her friends in all their naked glory, copulate on camera, get an interview with the people in her life, yet the one subject she refuses to discuss is her politics.

Sitting through the two weird epilogues, and a cursory check of IMDB.com, shows this entire two-hour exercise (it took me days to watch this) is moot. For all of Beccarie's condescension about the porn film business- what she does is erotica, not porn- and her slamming of that new American hit entitled "Deep Throat," she ended up leaving the hardcore sexual film industry a year or two after this was made. Davy would go on to make other "Exhibition" films, focusing on a different subject, but if they are anything like this, I don't want to spend another two hours or so having to listen to the drivel; unless it's coming from an actress named Beatrice Harnois who pops up way too late in this film, and is unbelievably gorgeous. Her initial scene is a yawn-fest as one actress reads some erotica she wrote (yeah, right) while the cast members act it out- badly.

"Exhibition" is the bonus feature on Artsploitation Films' DVD release of Davy's new film "Chasing the Muse," where he seems to get into the action himself (if a viewing of that film's trailer is any indication). This one star's story gets two stars from me. (* *) out of five stars.

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