Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Secret Things (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)
Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Genre: Drama
Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Starring: Coralie Revel, Sabrina Seyvecou, Roger Miremont, Fabrice Deville
Language: French
Duration: 115 min.
Rating: 6.7  

A modern erotic fable about two young women, Nathalie, a stripper at a bar, and Sandrine, a bartender, who conspire to climb the social ladder of Paris using their feminine wiles, after they start living together.

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things is a film written and directed by French filmmaker Jean-Claude Brisseau.  It was awarded the France Culture Award for French Cineaste of the Year at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.  It was also selected as the number one film of 2002 by the Cahiers du Cinema, tied with Abbas Kiarostami's Ten.

It's the story of two Parisian girls who work together at a seedy strip bar.  Nathalie (Coralie Revel) is a popular dancer, and Sandrine (Sabrina Seyvecou) a naive bartender.  After Sandrine turns down a creepy proposition from the owner, Nathalie defends her, resulting in getting them both fired.  The girls form a fast friendship and start living together, then make a plan to manipulate their way up the corporate and social ladder.

What follows is a highly sexually charged rise in station for the two femme fatales, the eroticism occasionally interrupted with the usual backstabbing, conniving and corporate power plays.  However, when they finally have their main target Christophe (Fabrice Deville), the playboy heir of the firm in their sights.  He proves to be a more dangerous adversary than either of them expected.

There is a great look to the film, while not quite as luscious as Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, it certainly reminds one of it.  There is also an underlying fantasy element to this, the entire film is narrated from Sandrine's point of view, perhaps unreliably as she recalls the story to the audience in a matter-of-fact manner, and there are recurring scenes with a mysterious dark cloaked figure holding a raven.  The screenplay does get over the top in places and is quite obviously written by a man, but the story is well developed with just the right twists, and the acting performances are convincing, offering more substance to keep our interest than the typical B movie or exploitation film.  A decent film for the genre but it is baffling how anyone could choose this as film of the year.

Bonjour Tristesse

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)

Secret Things • Choses secrètes (2002)


Chip Lary said...

Good, even-handed review.  I also saw the director's follow-up movie Exterminating Angels.  After Secret Things had been out for a while, one of the actresses, who was tired of all the flack she was catching for being in the movie, came out and said that the director had exploited her.  Charges escalated from there.  Exterminating Angels is the director's answer, in film form.  In it, a director is trying to find the right cast for his new film - one that will require a frank exploration of sexuality from the actresses that will be in it.  While Exterminating Angels has more (non-sexual) strangeness in it, I felt it was the better of the two movies.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

You are right, it does have a bit of that straight to video look.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

you have a thing for girls named Sandrine?

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I purposely chose the least racy poster to change it up a bit. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'm not familiar with that title, but you are right, the visuals of this are a bit hampered by the budget, and the boxy aspect ratio.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Well it does what it intends to do quite well, but that is being a low budget erotic b movie. 

d_4 said...

Well as long as it's entertaining, yeah?

The Reel Foto said...

girl's name is Sandrine? now you've got me curious...

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Well the poster is much more staid than some of the previous but its story sounds perfectly.... delicious? hahaha

Shutterbug said...

sounds like a sexy movie

-E- said...

not sure about the quality of the camera's they used. looks a bit like a showtime movie.

FrontRoomCinema said...

Pretty high acclaim for this one, but your score doesn't match up. I will go with your score BT. You know best!! 

Great write up and images

The Angry Lurker said...

I remember starting to watch this one night but never finishing it, I can't tell whether it was through tiredness or a poor movie even with nudity.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Thanks Chip Lary, I know a little about that story but I have not seen Exterminating Angels yet.  I will try to track it down though.

Mette said...

Okay... reminds me of Aimée & Jaguar, just that it looks cheap somehow.

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