The original Sex Stories was a mess, offering numerous, endless unsimulated sex scenes to get viewers' attention, and with a laundry list of deeply sexist ideas about men and women serving as an attempt at "plot." Still, any film that dares to straddle that line between pornography and "regular" cinema can probably count on financial success, so four years later, we have Infidelity: Sex Stories 2. I'm pleased to say that this sequel is a noticeable improvement over the first film, offering an actual thematic thread that ties all of its characters together. Sadly, the differences stop there: the writing is still deeply sexist, and the sex scenes are still a bore.
Once again, the film tells the story of three couples, and once again, the men are all cheating pigs who think of nothing more than having sex with women other than their wives and girlfriends. This time, however, director / writer Ovidie emphasizes the idea of unfaithfulness until it becomes a premise, studying how the desire to be stray affects each couple differently. Marianne (Rebecca Lord) joins her boyfriend Patrick (Rodolph Antrim) on the swinger website he frequents when he's in the apartment alone. Jean Marc (Pascal St. James) argues with his wife Hélène (Delfynn Delage) over their agreement for a weekly day of infidelity when she walks in on him sleeping with a younger woman. Finally, Alban (Bruno Sx) and Aline (Nomi) talk over Alban's affair with a young woman named Sylvia (Graziella Diamond), only to have their son Quentin (Ricky Mancini) unwittingly get involved.
Although this could be at least a mildly interesting look at the neuroses of aging men, the larger effect of cheating on both parties, or even an X-rated farce, Ovidie latches onto stereotypical gender roles and holds on tight. Although Hélène is apparently the one who introduced the idea of a weekly cheat day, and despite an opening scene played for laughs (she walks into the bedroom, says hi to both Jean Marc and the girl, grabs her cell phone, and walks out), she suddenly turns into a hissing harpy, demanding to know the girl's age and then coming up with a bunch of canned reasons Jean Marc chose someone so young. When Alban tries to break things off with Sylvia, she starts leaving little messages on Alban's doorstep for Aline, including a photograph of Aline and Alban with angry doodles in Sharpie. Even when Marianne reacts to Patrick's porn with more curiosity than anger, there's a tired old joke about her age. These are just the way Ovidie treats women, too...her opinion of men and the untamed reptilian nature of their brains isn't much better.
One thing I wonder about when watching a film like this is what motivates actors to give into their inhibitions and make a movie like this (the most interesting two minutes of the film stem from this question: Jean Marc criticizes a prostitute about her line of work, and she gets angry). In this case, the answer is underwhelming: the women are all apparently adult film stars, but the acting here seems better than my hazy memory of the original film. In particular, Lord has a bright, charming personality and has strong chemistry with Antrim, illustrated most vividly in a playful scene where they take photographs of each other in Halloween masks for the swinger website.
Oh, but a scene like that leads into one of the film's sex scenes, and boy are they a drag. Of course, the whole point of watching a movie with unsimulated sex scenes is to see the unsimulated sex scenes, but the real failure of Ovidie as a director is that she completely fails to give any of them a unique or individual touch. There needs to be a different feel to the scene where Sylvia drops by Alban's work and manipulates him into saying he loves her, and the aforementioned photo session between Marianne and Patrick. Each one of these scenes eats up 15 minutes of screen time and is shot in almost the exact same way, and the effect is instantly monotonous. Sex Stories 2 shows some signs of life compared to its predecessor; perhaps by the time Ovidie films Sex Stories 12, she'll have perfected the formula.
The DVD, Video, Audio, and Extras
Breaking Glass provided DVDTalk with a DVD-R of Infidelity, so no assessment of the packaging, A/V, or supplements can be provided. This is particularly irritating because one of the draws of this disc as a reviewer was a lengthy documentary on Ovidie, the director / writer of these films. Oh, well...
I've said it before, and I've said it again: I don't understand what would motivate a viewer to rent a movie like this instead of watching "regular" pornography, but whatever that magic element is, Sex Stories 2 lacks it. Skip it.
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