Q (Desire) (2011)

 There are worse ways of spreading the word about a new French language movie than isolating the naughty bits and stringing them together on Redtube and the like.  Worse ways, too, than seeding the Internet with stills and clips of actress Deborah Revy naked or kneeling for a mouthful of cock.  And showing that mouthful in all of its mouthwatering glory.
     But still, anybody walking into director Laurent Bouhnik’s Q (Desire) expecting a wall to wall fuck fest is in for a surprise, as French film-making turns out another in that long line of movies (Betty BlueThe Hairdresser’s Husband etc) destined to become a Stateside cult favorite simply by virtue of its honesty.
     Q  is nominally the story of Cecile, mid-20s and stunning, mourning the recent death of her father – whose ashes she carries around in a Tupperware container – by making a pass or more at almost every guy who comes close to her… with the exception of the one guy who makes the pass first.  He just winds up in a ball on the floor, clutching his crushed testicles.
     Her own boyfriend Chance (Johnny Amaro) isn’t exactly blameless; more interested, it seems, in hanging out with his mates than spending time with Cecile, we meet him naked in the kitchen by a blinking neon light, with an equally unclothed Cecile attempting to pump some life into him.  Unsuccessfully.  So she looks elsewhere – and not necessarily deliberately,  but certainly with a degree of cunning, she begins to weave together the lives of a handful of local youth, male and female, bad boys and businessmen, simply by doing what she seems to do best.  Looking gorgeous.
     She is delightfully shameless.  One guy is seduced while he talks with his own girlfriend.  Another is spellbound simply so she can steal his cellphone.  And when a couple of attempts to get the local pointy-faced goth guy Matt (Gowan Didi – who really ought to be the next Johnny Depp) into bed fall short at the very heavy petting point, she turns her attention to his girlfriend Alice (Helene Zimmer), who herself undergoes a fascinating metamorphosis as the movie goes on.
     The first time we see her, she is the drawn-faced, bespectacled nerd girl whose first shot at giving her boyfriend a blowjob is memorable more for her conversation than her technique.  The second-to-last time, she is half-naked in the bathroom while Cecile finger fucks her to what was probably the first decent orgasm of her entire mouse-like life.
     In between times, she is ogled by a construction worker, fingered while her mom stands just feet away – and Cecile’s not-quite-unwilling collaborator in one of the hottest reconciliation scenes you’ll see, as an estranged couple are lured separately, and unknowingly, to a deserted house, blindfolded and stripped and then placed on a couch, while other hands reintroduce them to one another.   Watch it and wriggle.
     So am I still insisting Q isn’t a porn flick?  I am.  For a start, there are no lingering close-ups of penetrative sex, no splattering cum shots or wide, gaping assholes.  It is true, that sure ain’t no popsicle that Cecile pulls out of Matt’s unzipped pants and sucks like it’s going out of fashion; and when she lures the bland businessman to a beach hut assignation, then pushes him to his knees before her, his tongue knows exactly where to go.
     But the sex in Q is just a part of the movie’s attraction and fascination.  Cecile is unquestionably the catalyst and cause of a lot of desire, but her actions are designed around a more-than-plausible subplot.  Likewise, the lives of the movie’s main characters are lived around, and not amidst, the eroticism, all the more so as Cecile’s policy of sultry subversion begins to blur with a couple of local gangbangers’ feud with a local businessmen.
     Beautiful camerawork, sensitive subtitles (at least on the UK version; I’ve not yet seen the US edition) and an almost-unanimously good-looking cast (at least among the younger generation) are the icing on this 103 minute cake; Bouhnik’s direction is exquisite and the French coastal scenery is a picture postcard in itself.  In other words… well, I stumbled on Q courtesy of an eleven minute montage of sex scenes on the aforementioned tube site, and now rank it among my favorite European movies of all time.  Watch it and you will probably feel the same way.

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