Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Dressage (1986)

Erotica is like any other genre. It can be done badly, or it can be done well. Dressage is an example of how the genre can be done very well indeed.

This 1986 French production also demonstrates that low-budget movies can look very classy indeed. It’s a period piece, which helps, but more importantly it’s a movie that appears to have been made by people who were actually interested in making a move.

The movie starts with a gathering of the Baron Plessis du Regard and his circle of decadent debauched hedonists. They plan a rather perverse game, to settle some scores with some enemies. Nathalie wants revenge on her father, who deserted her and her mother before she was born. Her revenge will be achieved by corrupting her father’s younger daughter Sophie.

The baron on the other hand wants to destroy a political enemy, M. Leroy-Murville. He will need one of the female members of his circle to help him, so he decides to choose the one who can prove herself to be the most depraved. This turns out to be Eliane.

Eliane gets herself a job as tutor to M. Leroy-Murville’s son Robert. She uses her very considerable sexual charms to tease both father and son until both are almost insane with frustrated desire.

Nathalie has obtained a post as tutor to her father’s daughter Sophie. Neither Sophie nor her father have any idea who Nathalie really is of course. Corrupting Sophie turns out to be surprisingly easy.

Both Nathalie and Eliane will find that things don’t work out quite the way they anticipated.

This is a movie in which the sex (which is really very tame) and the nudity (which is plentiful) cannot be described as gratuitous. The plot is all about sex. This is not just a string of sex scenes - it has a complex and carefully worked out plot. And it has actual characters.

I happen to be hopelessly in love with the 1930s so a movie set in the era already has a head start in my book. The sets and the costumes look great. And there’s no doubt that erotica in a period setting looks a whole lot more interesting than erotica in a modern setting. Gorgeous dresses, stockings and lacy underthings - you can’t really go wrong with such ingredients.

And it’s pretty well acted as well. Véronique Catanzaro as Nathalie and Cornélia Wilms as Eliane are extremely good.

It’s also a surprisingly good-natured movie. It’s not a tacky sex comedy but it is funny. There’s no violence at all. It’s fun, it’s classy, it’s stylish, it’s playfully naughty and it manages to be very sex without being in the least explicit. It ain't Citizen Kane, but it's highly entertaining.

Sadly the Naughty DVD release from Nucleus Films is not all that fantastic. The picture quality is somewhat dark and muddy. On the other hand it’s very cheap.

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