The Exterminating Angels
IFC First Take
Combining intense eroticism with satirical fantasy, this self-reflective effort by French filmmaker Jean-Claude Brisseau ("Secret Things") was inspired by the legal troubles the filmmaker experienced when he was accused by two actresses of forcing them to masturbate on camera while auditioning for the earlier film.
Provocative and sexy if less than deep in its pretentious thematic concerns, "Exterminating Angels" is the sort of licentious foreign film that used to populate art houses with regularity. It is currently playing at New York's IFC Center.
The central character and stand-in for the filmmaker is Francois (Frederic van den Driessche), a middle-aged but still dapper director auditioning beautiful young actresses for roles in his upcoming film dealing with issues of female sexuality. Despite a stern warning from his dead grandmother in a spectral appearance, Francois, perhaps being maliciously guided by two beautiful female spirits, soon finds himself caught up in a series of increasingly exciting but dangerous erotic encounters with his would-be performers.
The actresses in question are all quite gorgeous, and engage in a variety of explicit encounters, ranging from pleasuring themselves in the middle of a crowded restaurant to a Sapphic threesome in a hotel room. Observing all of this with an air of detachment is Francois, though his
underlying excitement becomes obvious to his increasingly concerned wife.
Alternately provocative and highly silly, the film overcomes its more ludicrous aspects through its glossy visual style, its frequent doses of humor and the obvious associations it evokes to its creator's real-life experiences.