Sex Is Taboo

In the eyes of the outside world, the French are synonymous with sex, a bountiful of it. And why should they not be associated with it? Underneath the Eiffel Tower, when Louis fait la cour to you, all you can do is surrender and let him baiser the hell out of you. Like its title, the film is unrelenting and incessant until someone comes out of this, a victim.

The person behind the camera is the late Jean Eustache, who really drags his French work out to a lengthy marathon. True, it is a teetotaling and bitter drama that cuts straight through the bush by systematically disemboweling the existentialism of European history, particularly the myths of a certain sexual revolution from the 70s. Like most bachelors in film, Alexandre is an unctuous and care-free misogynist that meanders around the Parisian arrondissements in search of vulnerable women and probably holds a PhD in emotionless pseudo-intellectual monologues reserved for, again, his women. The highlight of his sex life (on screen) is luring two women into a ménage-à-trois circus, at a not-so five-star apartment. The French are passionate, yes. However, Eustache employs a clinical approach instead of an erotic orgy, thereby showing the conceptual callousness of an orgy. Unless Alexandre has mastered the Kama Sutra prior to his encounter with the two women, there will always be a woman left out. While one is temporarily enjoying his affections, the other is watching, restless, and waiting. This fallout circles the drain until it is most likely the man who starts and ends the circus. Alexandre is charming, but he is unable to satisfy two simultaneously, much like the majority of the male population.

Every morning, each day spent together is not a lost day, a massacre, a crime.

There is a rather douchey feel to Alexandre’s obsession with asking philosophical questions. He is a bright guy, but his cringey self-analyses, cinema-talk and “what is the meaning of life?” moments confuse both him and the audience at times. In addition to all that, he is highly pretentious, carrying around Proust like its the Bible without actually reading it, cue the sneak peak of Sartre amongst the crowd at a particular Café de Flore. The erudite conversations are nothing short of cogitation attacked by the drunken cerebrum. So much for philosophy.

Between Veronika and Marie, Alexandre is living the dream. He subjects Veronika to long TED-talks monologues and turns Veronika into another one of his women. It is through his eyes that the audience can see the progress of his courting and the closeups of Veronika certainly consolidate this point. The ceaseless seductive onslaughts on her begin to cripple her already-crippled psyche, and all of this culminates into a poignant ending. Marie on the other hand, is more than just a roommate; she is his girlfriend. Again, being the tool that is Alexandre, experimenting with relationships is a lifestyle. Marie does not see grand importance in Alexandre either, more as a casual soulmate and appropriately vermin at the bottom of her heel, and thus, the encounter between the two women is not as dramatic as one might imagine.

Veronika is reminiscent of Valerie from Diary of a Nymphomaniac. Away from her day job as a nurse, she is honest in admitting her sexual cravings. Like Alexandre, she likes monologues too. Why should men have all the fun and women sneered for liking the same thing?

Why shouldn’t women be able to say they want to fuck?

It is easy to begin the film thinking Alexandre is the main character. After all, he is given the most screen-time. However, the topic of women, is equally prevalent. In a way, the film studies men through the lens of women. Let the man continue talking to himself, he is a specimen of eccentricity, and not the good kind. It is also entirely plausible that women keep men around to see the next tomfoolery they will put depict, since… all men are trash.

Finally, when she breaks down, Veronika recounts her previous horrible experiences with men, without censorship. The dam is broken. Amidst the flurry of tears and incoherent speech, her endured confessions are volatile innuendoes, carrying a similar theme for all the women who have suffered under the faux romance. So much for la galanterie, and the film has a point. The Mother and The Whore has a crude title, it is a scathing commentary on the despicable predatory acts of men, which is valid, even today.

I followed you because I wanted to be with you. You know what? I’d like to fuck you again. I love you and I want to fuck you again.

Once contemporary films become too tedious, this work of art should be (re)unleashed onto the unsuspecting public. In a world where sexual exploitations of women continue to persist (though the idea of a system that perpetuates it is hotly contested), the French piece la Mère et la Putain is an excellent drama discussing the gender politics of sexuality. It is extremely on the qui vive, a study of a raw man and two women, open enough to pander to him, then risk the expensive price tag necessitated. Upon arrival in Paris, a tourist can quickly remark on how often native Frenchies enjoy frequenting the cafes as breeding grounds for passionate debates about what happiness is or something like that. Saint-Germain-des-Près, a puff of smoke, a sly flirtatious glance, a glass of Merlot, life will only begin, when it begins.

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