*spoiler alert* Stop reading now and scroll down to *end spoilers* if you plan to see the film A L’aventure and would rather not read about the its, um, climactic scene.
This past weekend, my fiancé and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching A L’aventure On Demand. The film, an Official Selection at several fall festivals last year, is billed as an “erotic drama”, written and directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau (“Secret Things”), who has been called “notorious” as a filmmaker and praised for his “fearless exploration of female sexuality.”
Frankly, I wasn’t terribly impressed by this tale of a sexually dissatisfied woman who pursues sexual experimentation, including via hypnosis. The main character, Sandrine, and two other women (Mina and Sophie) decide to pursue the ultimate ecstasy, spiritual as well as sexual, by being hypnotized by a male psychiatrist, Greg, whose ethics are questionable at best. For Greg, the pursuit of truth triumphs morality. Never mind that he’s slept with both Sandrine and Sophie. Still, he does hesitate when the three women ask him to hypnotize them. Eventually, however, he agrees and of course all manner of back-arching, writhing fun ensues.
For one of the women, Mina, the hypnosis takes her back to a mysterious experience from her childhood involving nuns who practice mysticism. By film’s end, Mina has The Ultimate Orgasm–complete with levitation, the unleashing of “negative forces” (gusty winds that leave the room in disarray), and of course the resultant selective mutism and desire to join a convent. Are you surprised that Greg has also become Mina’s lover?
For a different take on orgasm and female “dissatisfaction”, there’s Orgasm, Inc., a documentary film which is premiering at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in May. Orgasm, Inc. takes “a humorous and sobering look inside “big pharma” and the marketing campaigns that are literally and figuratively reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, desire and that ultimate moment: orgasm.” The film is the culmination of director-producer Liz Canner’s “eight year odyssey following cadre of drug companies as they race to be the first to win FDA approval of their pill, cream, patch or nose spray. The promised result: orgasm and ‘normal’ sexual function for women. Ultimately, the film concludes that the key to women’s sexual satisfaction is to change not just our sex lives but also our society.” [emphasis mine]
“After editing porn to be used in research conducted by the drug company Vivus–which was racing against Big Pharma firms to develop a Viagra equivalent for women–[Canner] set out to dissect the corporate commoditization of perfectly normal sexual problems. Along the way, Canner encounters a sex shop owner who crashes pharmaceutical conferences to educate the doctors who attend, a vintage vibrator collector who provides insight into the history of female ‘hysteria,’ an orgasmatron, and a man whose monkeys have taught him to pay more attention to women. Upbeat, engaging, enlightening, and provocative, Orgasm, Inc. will change the way you think about sex.”
Now that’s une aventure that I look forward to seeing.
(Hat tip to my dear friend Faith Adiele for the heads up about Orgasm, Inc..)