Les choses secretes

cast: Coralie Revel, and Sabrina Seveycou

director: Jean-Claude Brisseau

112 minutes (18) 2002
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont

Shannon Whirry where are you now? Shannon Whirry was undeniably the goddess of her chosen universe. She ruled the mid-1990s’ softcore ‘erotic thriller’ genre with an iron fist, a set of large mammary glands and a pout that made her look like she chewed tobacco. Her presence was somehow comforting because you knew that sooner or later those glands would make their appearance and it made the rubbish plots easier to stomach.

If Shannon Whirry had been the star of Les choses secretes (aka: Secret Things), it would have signalled that the director didn’t take the material too seriously. That he knew what he was there to do, which was to keep single men from changing channels on late-night cable TV. The problem is that Jean-Claude Brisseau wrote this film, directed it and clearly thinks he is some kind of latter day libertine. Well he’s not.

Sandrine and Nathalie are a waitress and a stripper who get sacked from their jobs in a strip-club and end up living together. Soon they’re taking their underwear off in the underground and having sex with each other in order to prove to themselves that they’re something special. That they’re not suckers that fall in love and get hurt or used. They then decide to use this attitude and skills to get themselves some money and go and work in an office that is already full of intrigue and politics. They start to play employees and bosses off each other and soon are the personal secretaries of a senior manager before the boss takes an interest in them himself. The boss (who enjoys shagging his sister, wearing purple satin shirts and monologuing like a coked-up Hitler) drives one of the girls to madness, and the other to marry him, before a shooting and a pointless orgy leave one an isolated millionaire and one a happy mother and wife.

This film is basically pretentious softcore porn. The director gleefully films his starlets having sex so unrealistic, contrived and poorly set-up that you’re likely to be more stimulated by walking across a nylon carpet than by subjecting yourself to the endless thrashing about and finger-banging that’s on display in this film. It wouldn’t be so bad if this sub-par wank-fodder weren’t dressed up by the philosophical musings of first Nathalie and then Christophe. Between them, these two characters spew such horrid, putrescent cod-philosophical bollocks that any sensible woman would pummel them both to death with her shoes rather than seek to emulate one and seduce the other.

There’s no message to this film, no new comments on the human condition and no taboos are transgressed that aren’t transgressed more thoroughly and entertainingly in the likes of ‘Down the Hatch’ and ‘Backroom facials’. You might be tempted to extract a cautionary moral about playing mind games from this film but the fact that one of the girls clearly benefit from playing mind games instantly torpedoes any such pretence.

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The acting is appalling. While the female lead is tolerable she is supported by a woman so wooden you could build a raft out of her, and a male object of lust that looks like a footballer gone to seed and acts about half as well. The pacing is ponderous, the direction dull-witted and the dialogue like something out of a nativity play performed by St Winifred’s School for Particularly Backward and Ugly Children. Consider this for example:

Would you like a little coffee?
No thanks.
Would you like a little glass of orange juice?
No thanks.
Would you like a little glass of water?
No thanks.
Would you like to meet up for a drink later?
No thanks.

People actually say these things to each other! Brisseau sat down in front of a computer and burned calories thinking up things for these characters to say to each other and produced that. That’s probably after a number of re-writes too! Even the lighting is bad; some of the early scenes look like they were lit by halogen headlights, and I actually kept expecting the actors to be mowed down by a runaway truck.

This film is a laughably bad and appalling pretentious piece of second-rate wank fodder. You’d have to be seriously lacking in mental or sexual stimulation to find anything of worth in this film