"L'Ennui is driven by a very clever idea and a curious understanding of the perverse quirks of human nature (and male sexuality.) It's classic male fantasy turned nightmare: an older man falls for a younger girl who is beautiful, naive, sexually voracious, and utterly pliant. It's a pornographic dream that gradually becomes more and more hellish to the middle-aged protaganist, who is disillusioned with life (the French call it "ennui"), and groping for some kind of meaning. For, ironically, the utterly sexually available girl cannot be possessed; she is utterly opaque, and because he cannot inhabit her mind, cannot make her feel intensely for him, he becomes neurotically obsessed by her, which, of course, leads to all kinds of abjection and abasement for him. In this, the film explores the tension between the male dream of feminine passivity, and the male nightmare of feminine impassivity.
L'Ennui falters quite a lot; it's turgid, and probably forty minutes too long, hammering the point home long after the emotional terrain of the film has been traversed. Still, it's an intriguing film, often blackly funny, insightful, and, erotic in the way only French films dare to be, all jiggling flesh and too much reality for audiences reared on the smoothed over nothingness of Hollywood."
A thought provoking film ...
me-jane | 02/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The plotine is basically about a philosophy professor,an unsympathethic womaniser who has the desire to do something with his life. He meets a young woman, who was a model for a painter, who died while they were having sex, he doesn't get along well with her yet he has this physical connection to her. His obsession with her and her inability to respond to him make him resort to violence, he wants to break up with her and yet he cannot. Can a person love and despise another at the same time? This film explores that premise and utilises a lot of gratuitous sex and nudity ... Overall, it was a thought provoking film and I would only recommend it to any fan of French Cinema."
me-jane | 06/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think you miss the whole point of this movie if you are expecting a typical Hollywood "brainwashing" movie. This movie is French. The whole point of the movie is precisely that the woman is not slim and gorgeous like a model (as Hollywood would make you want to believe all woman should be to be desirable to men). The fact that she is chubby makes the point precisely. She is not beautiful in his eyes, she is plain and chubby but he is crazy about her, why? because he cannot posses her. (Apart from physical pleasure there is nothing he can give her to make her interested in him.) And the farther away she is emotionally the more he wants her, and the more obsessed he gets with her. It has nothing to do with the outer physical beauty --she has managed to possess him in every way, without the "beauty" attributes that Hollywood movies would want to instill in the audiences. Her character has weaknesses as to the emotional and that is what drives him crazy about her. This movie is a great awakening into the deeper psyche of men."
me-jane | 12/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a strange movie! Prix Delluc 1998, a perfectly honorable artsy French prize, but it certainly spares you no graphic sex scene, nor the buttocks of Charles Berling (a favorite actor of mine)nor the bosoms of coy Sophie Guillemin. Sometime, you think you hit upon some deeply philosophical statement, and in the next scene you are wondering if you are watching a parody of the genre. Hilarious dialogue at times (without meaning to be, I am sure..), and hilarious situations, though I am sure it is not the moviemaker's intention to create mirth. All in all, great photography, beautiful colors, realistic bits of Paris's life, and fabulous acting. But would I recommend it to a friend without a certain sense of humor? Well...."
An increasingly restless film
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 01/10/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I become irritated part way through this film. It's like you are forced to watch Berling's character become increasingly obsessed with Guillemin's, to the point where we are not only disturbed, but also completely perturbed by his inability to let go of Cecilia, who seems so wonderfully and completely uninterested and distant. I admit that while I watched the movie, I had to turn it off part way through; I, myself, became so anxious by and annoyed with Martin's obsessive ness. At first, I thought it was because the movie was totally unappealing, even unwatchable. However, once I watched the rest of the film I understood why. Let me explain why.
Berling's growing sexual obsession with Sophie Guilleman is believable because in real life I would imagine that more men, middle aged or otherwise, develop obsessions with ordinary girls/women than with the Pamela Anderson/Jordan in-your-face sex objects. This is not to say that Guilleman is chopped liver but she is an Average girl; average looks, average figure, average sexuality and again it is, I suspect, much easier to develop a sexual obsession about a girl who is much more likely to be available to the Average man, which is what Berling is both on and off screen. The idea of a young girl believed to have killed a man three times her age via sex clearly invests her with a certain cachet not least in the eyes of a philosophy teacher drifting aimlessly yet inexorably towards mid-life crisis and not even searching for a paddle. The concept of a young girl who actually enjoys sex for its own sake and is unwilling and/or incapable of adding love to the mix, a creature in effect prepared and eager to experience sexual fulfillment as often and with as many different partners as possible and remain loyal to none is not exactly new and each time this story is told the only possible interest lies in the man who is unable to share her and how long it takes to reach its inevitable tragic conclusion.
I realized that Kahn probably had every attention of making his subject so intense, so masochistic, and so repetitively annoying in his obsession, the utter irritation and anxiety that the movie provoked in me suggested that not only is the filmmaker very successful in representing pathological behavior, but also in implicating his audience in that representation. "