As an art form film has always been a bit of an odd duck. After all if you want to write a novel you sit down and write, if you want to draw a picture you get a pencil and you draw but making a film is not just about you, it’s a team effort. From actors to gaffers, producers to art department the sheer number of moving parts on a film set make the entire production process both exhilarating and mind numbingly frustrating. Channeling her own anxieties while filming her critically acclaimed “Fat Girl” Catherine Breillat’s “Sex is Comedy” is an insightful glance at the world of filmmaking and the tensions that lie within.
While based upon Breillat’s experience on past films, “Sex is Comedy” is the fictional account of film director Jeanne (“Le Femme Nikita’s”Anne Parillaud) in her attempt to shoot a difficult sex scene for her new feature using two actors who dislike each other ( Gregoire Colin and Roxane Mesquida). Jeanne realizes she is tough to work with, prone to changing her mind in regards to a shot at a moments notice and being rough on her actors but also believes her methods yield results. Using her sheer tenacity and unwillingness to cave in to the apprehension shown by both her leads, Jeanne struggles to shoot the sex scene on which the rest of her film will draw its power.
“Sex is Comedy’s” simplistic premise is both good and bad. As a companion piece to “Fat Girl”, the film is a fascinating look at how Breillat views herself and her actors. Roxane Mesquida is playing an actress who is acting in a role very similar to the one she herself portrayed in “Fat Girl”, in a scene reminiscent of “Fat Girl”. In both films the sex scene proves to be the most powerful moment and the build up and payoff gives the films their emotional weight. However while “Sex is Comedy” is a wonderful follow up to Breillat’s previous work, on its own it comes off as much less complex. Whereas “Fat Girl” was a rich, textured look at losing one’s innocence, able to change its mood at a moments notice, “Sex is Comedy” has a much simpler point which could have been shown in a shorter film. “Sex is Comedy” is a well done look at life behind the scenes of a film set but it is made by a director who is capable of bigger and better things.