Writer-director Lucie Borleteau’s My Sole Desire revolves around erotica and the many avenues of expression therein. Borleteau and co-writers Clara Bourreau and Laure Giappiconi present a tale of high-flying romance and uncertainty and examine the intimacies of human nature. It’s a film that begs the question, can sexuality be sincere?
Manon (Louise Chevillotte), a young woman looking to make rent, finds work at the titular strip club owned by Pablo (Pedro Casablanc). She quickly endears herself to her fellow strippers. A true friendship is started with Mia (Zita Hanrot0), and Manon begins to learn the ins and outs of stripping. As she gains confidence in her performances, Manon also gains confidence in her sexuality and pushes the boundaries of those dynamic comfort zones.
My Sole Desire engages the ubiquitous tropes set inside the male gaze with a much more universal dissection, articulating beautifully the realities of humanity’s sexuality. Male, female, or otherwise. We, the audience, see that despite our best efforts, each of us has the ability to tap into a profound and primal hedonism. Our nature, impulses, and desires are all on display — and the best thing to be said about this film is that it handles those instincts beautifully.
“…needs more money. So Manon starts hooking…”
Oddly enough, that attention to impulse creates a landscape that can avoid character development. Providing, at times, a one-note experience as the nudity and sex scenes start to stack up. Manon slowly discovers that in order to move out of her apartment and away from her roommates, she needs more money. So Manon starts hooking in an effort to finance a move away. Drawing criticism from Mia for becoming a hooker, Manon struggles with her decision to continue down that path in order to fund her lifestyle. Moreover, Manon looks for a way to solidify her relationship with Mia and build a life for the two of them outside of the club. That is about all there is to the lead characters. There’s little subtlety or dimension to either Manon or Mia.
However, this love story’s silent tragedy works well when played alongside the lewd scenes and sequences surrounding it. It is making a compelling point that, sure, you can be a stripper and undress for money — but is having sex for that same money too far? There’s an attention to detail in terms of editing, sound, color, and design that cannot be overlooked. The solid technical aspects add an artistic and surprising musical quality to the entire project that’s pleasant to the eye and ear. Certain aesthetic choices also bolster this already strong piece of filmmaking, such as Manon’s visions of naked strangers or Mia’s theater audition. These instances are particularly inspired and certainly worth the price of admission.
My Sole Desire is subtle, real, and heartbreaking in all the best ways. In for a penny, in for a pound.
"…particularly inspired and certainly worth the price of admission."