Plot: What’s it about?
First things first here. The School of Flesh may sound like a porno or something, but it’s not, but maybe it would have been better as one. As I see this film as nothing more than a soft core tease, I won’t delve much into the story, which seems dull, and is. Dominique (Isabelle Huppert), a middle aged divorced woman, is lonely and looking to hook up. She and a friend decide to check out a gay bar, and low and behold, Dominique sees a man there who catches her eye, the bartender, Quentin (Vincent Martinez). Not only is he twenty years younger than Dominique, but he’s also a bisexual male prostitute! What a bargain! So, they go to dinner, he treats her like crap, she wants to save him from his life, blah blah blah. Anyway, she talks with his boss, and pays off the debts Quentin has, to try to pull him from the life he is living. But Quentin’s past is such that he doesn’t like to trust or allow his feelings to get the best of him. They end up moving in together, but they are always testing each other. How far will it go?
As you can tell from above, I didn’t care for this movie. You might think it’s because the film is in French with English subtitles, but that’s not the case. When it is done correctly, French cinema is excellent, as in Alphaville or The 400 Blows. But this movie just plain sucks. If I wanted this type of movie, I believe Showtime airs about three of them every Friday night. Yeah, this one is a little more artsy than your normal soft core fare, but it still lacks the style I expected from it. I was thinking the film would send me reeling with visual imagery and complex dialogue, but I was dead wrong. I was left in a state of total disappointment with this film. But, I’m sure there is an audience for it, it’s just not me. While I’ve seen tons of positive reviews for this movie, I just can’t agree.
The only redeeming thing about this movie is the acting, which is good, but not as great as many claim it to be. The two main characters are the only notable roles in the film, and I did enjoy the effort, but the material is just not suitable for these talents. Isabelle Huppert (Passion, Loulou) is very good, but again, if she had a little more to work with, this would have been a good movie. This is not her best performance, but she tries to make the material work, it’s just not there. To see just how good she is, with decent material and a great director, check out Jean Luc-Godard’s Passion, which has similar steaminess without the miserable material of The School of Flesh. Also giving a nice performance is Vincent Martinez who actually suprised me with his acting skills. I would be very interested in seeing him perform with a decent script and concept. Now, no one seems give this disc a bad review, and I’ll tell you my theory on why. If a reviewer dismisses a foreign film, it makes him/her look like an uncultured swine (credit to Mr. Potato Head), when that’s not always true. Ok, The School of Flesh tries to be a thought provoking, stylish romance story, but it’s not. The only though the film provoked with me was “Why did I just waste an hour and forty-five minutes?”
Video: How does it look?
The video looks very good, presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with no major flaws. The black levels are up to par, which is good because the film can venture into some very dark scenes. Flesh tones are natural, and colors are bright, but not abnormally so. The transfer is also devoid of any compression errors.
Audio: How does it sound?
You get a French 2.0 surround track for the dialogue, and while I have retained very little from my high school French classes, I could hear the clarity of the words. Now, I didn’t understand them, but they were clear. There’s not much else here in the audio section, as this is a dialogue driven film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Included is the theatrical trailer, and that’s it.