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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » To the Extreme
To the Extreme
Picture This! // Unrated // March 15, 2005
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Daniel W. Kelly | posted March 25, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
At last, someone wholeheartedly takes on the lives of a whole group of bi-sexual individuals. And, like its title, this French film takes the perspective To The Extreme.

The Story:
Thomas is a well-off party boy. He's bisexual, and although he's with an older woman with a son named Gregory, he's still getting it on the side, most notably from a sexy young blond man named Vincent. Therefore, he won't commit to his girlfriend like she wants, or move in and be surrogate father to her son. But then, she dies in an accident. He doesn't want to raise the boy. But then he does. But then he discovers he can't get custody of the boy, who ends up in an orphanage. He tries everything he can think of to win custody, and eventually, it looks like the only solution is to break the boy out of his "prison."

But that's not the only plot line. Thomas is non-committal with his boyfriend Vincent. The two of them have sex with each other, as well as many a threesome with another woman. Then there's the bisexual female roommates Thomas knows. Geraldine is a prostitute. Ann, Thomas's close friend, is dating a sugar daddy, which makes Thomas very jealous. And guess what? All this is going on while young Gregory is living with and being raised by all of them.

Let's get the first thing out of the way. The hot blond with the Torso on the cover of the DVD? He's not the lead. He's Vincent. This looks like maybe an erotic thriller. It's not. It's a slow moving downer of a drama. It also presents itself as artsy and trippy with some funky camera work, editing, time shifts, and reading of classic poetry over certain scenes. Maybe I'm just too jaded and sick of "arsty" films, but this all felt very pretentious to me.

Next, there's the eroticism. Well, the first scene, in the opening moments of the film, was a heterosexual one, and despite the presence of female breasts, I'd say it was somewhat erotic and sensual. The hot gay scene—with just enough hardcore lust to give it a more masculine edge than a heterosexual scene—involves a clear male member grope in a hallway. Then there is the three way bisexual scenes. Honestly, this came off as forced, and downright skanky. I found the sex scene in the comedy Threesome more erotic. It seemed really slimy here, and that's probably in part to a deep-rooted societal taboo. I mean, watching two guys get it on with one girl, aside from the fact that there's a girl there at all, involves the chick making out with and getting down with two men at once, and society has taught me well that men can have multiple partners, but for women, that's just a no-no. So, all I keep thinking every time she leaps from one man to the other is…"skank!"

The positive about this movie is that the dialogue and conversations throughout the film are so mundane and contrite that they actually feel incredibly real. Home made cakes and driver's test questions are amongst the subjects discussed. Oh wait! Maybe the beauty of the poetic narratives that Thomas reads show the extremes between his mundane, often ugly existence and the intangible euphoria for which he is searching. So astoundingly…artsy.

What did this film teach me? Well, let's see. It taught me that indeed, bisexual people can absolutely not, in any way, be monogamous or settle for just one gender. Their desire overcomes them and they must fulfill both needs constantly. It also taught me that, give a bisexual a child to raise, and the bisexual will completely mess up that child's life. Is this the kind of movie bisexuals want representing their lives? I'll leave it to bisexual viewers to decide.

The DVD

Video:
This is an awful viewing experience. The movie is presented in a 1:85:1 letterbox aspect ratio. For starters, the image is plagued by specs and dust. But, on the bright side, you quickly forget they're even there because they get lost in the excessively dark picture and the equally excessive color saturation. Images on screen basically ooze together in a muddy mess.

Sound:
As if to kick a man when he's down, the audio is atrocious. You get the option of 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround. Either way, you get what's basically a mono nightmare, either in 2 ways or 5 ways. The bass is a noisy distorted mess. And the audio track is a sheet of noise and muffled tones. I'm just glad I don't speak French and had subtitles to follow.

Extras:
There are 23 chapter breaks, English or Spanish subtitles, and previews for 7 more Picture This! features. The only other extra is REALLY extraneous. It's called, "In Search of Tadzio" and runs about 8 minutes, and it's a documentary in which a film maker tracks down this actor named Bjorn Anderson who played a role years before in the gay classic novel adaptation of "Death in Venice." He's found (is this real or a gimmick?) and is interviewed on the long ago movie. He speaks English, the interviewer speaks French.

Final Thoughts:
To the Extreme explores the dark turn a privileged, bisexual party boy's life takes when his girlfriend dies and he must try to be legal guardian to her son. In an attempt to be erotic, moving, poetic, and beautiful…it sheds a really ugly light on bisexual people. Any directors out there willing to make a movie that shows a more optimistic fate for lovers of both genders? Because this movie seems to focus on every negative stereotype you could come up with for them.

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