The Film: Poor Ben (Jean-Marc Barr) works in a morgue. Ben has an emotional void in his life, one that he or his wife cant fill, so he likes to delve into kinky S&M clubs and hang out with his friends , who also enjoy this sort of thing, getting their rocks off with empty sex and mind games. While dancing away at a techno club, Teresa (Elodie Bouchez) gets slipped some bad ecstasy, passes out on the dance floor, is pronounced dead, and shipped off to the morgue. It isn't very long before Ben creates his own urban myth by trying to partake in a little necrophelia with her body, only to have the act revive her.
And so our tale begins, with Ben actually getting away with his actions, because she does not wish to press charges. Theresa is thankful to Ben, and thinks his taking advantage was what saved her (Now I'm no medical expert, but I still think there are some serious doubts as to whether or not they would have not figured out she was alive before an autopsy was performed). Ben's circle of friends don't think too much of his act, they just think he was taking their usual sexual games too far, whereas, Ben's wife, perhaps the only oasis of sanity in the movie, leaves him. Soon its a world of nipple clips and riding crops for Theresa, as she follows Ben around and is taken into his kinky lifestyle. Along the way, Ben and his friends liberate a comrade in the last stages of AIDS from the hospital, Theresa and Ben rescue an annoying near suicide loser, and everyone mopes and gets horny, mopes and gets horny.
Now, I don't mind kink, and I don't mind unappealing characters. I can see the merits of Tokyo Decadence and Crash, as well as I Stand Alone or Man Bites Dog. However, Don't Let Me Die on a Sunday (1998) congeals into nothing more than a dud. Basically it ultimately says what you figure out in the first five minutes, " These people are living loveless lives and try to fill that void with sexual games and kink."- and I'm not kidding at a latter point in the film, a character basically says just that. But, it never makes any attempt to explain how they got that way. The most it offers is offhand comments , like Ben's female friend, who likes to be humiliated and dominated says all she has is her "Sh*t life (during the day), then the evening (her fetish life)". As if somehow, living for being smacked around and humiliated is somehow so much better than having a boring job? And, Ben mentions how his wife looked down on his outside activities. Well, his outside activities are playing manipulating mind games, physically and emotionally hurting people, as well as screwing corpses. But, I guess they are all pretty shallow and confused. The inner circle friend dying of AIDS looks at Theresa, and says "It was a girl like you who did this to me." It tries to make some statement about the underbelly of sexuality, in this modern age, but in the end, it just becomes insufferable, because it is obvious in its plotting, a little skewed in its viewpoints, and devoid of interesting characters.
If you are a kinky person, I'd say you wouldn't like this film because it doesn't cast an exactly favorable light on fetishists (and on a superficial level it isnt even really very graphic). If kink and sexual subject matter, darker nightlife films interest you, there are certainly better films out there.
Fans of foreign cinema will no doubt recognize stars Elodie Bouchez from Wild Reeds and the excellent The Dreamlife of Angels, and Jean-Marc Barr from Breaking the Waves, Zentropa, and The Big Blue. Out of the three films in director Didier Le Pecheur, Don't Let Me Die on a Sunday appears to be the only one that has made it to US shores. While I have nothing kind to say about Percheur for helming this mess, it is too bad that Barr and Bouchez were part of it. They were the reasons I picked up this film in the first place. Although the synopsis didn't exactly appeal to me, neither did the synopsis of The Dreamlife of Angels or Zentropa, but both of those films were surprisingly good, and I guess I hoped to continue the track record with Don't Let Me Die...
The DVD: First Run Features presents a modest version of this small arthouse film.
Picture- Widescreen with great detail, sharpness, color, black levels, but it suffers from some very slight wavy-ness to the picture, that may have been from my players playback, and a few jittery jumps is the transfer. Overall, though, it looks great.
Sound- Original French audio track with default English subs (unfortunately the subs were white which makes reading them hard especially when a lot of the film has guys in white hospital coats and florescent lights). Solid sound.
Extras- Inside the DVD case there was a pretty thick booklet-catalog for First Run Features titles, most of which are the typical independent cinema stuff in which the word "provocative" has probably been overused in describing the films. The disc itself has the standard, scene selections, a photo gallery, an "About First Run Features" section, and three trailers for the films Frightened Woman, Danielle at Midnight, and Bedrooms and Hallways.