More important than the title, apparently.


STUDIO: Le Chat qui Fume
MSRP: $19.95
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
• Featurette on director Jean-Marie Pallardy
• Photos from Pallardy’s collection
• Trailers

The Pitch

“It’s like if Hitchcock just came out and admitted he liked boobs! Also if he thought Godard was the bee’s knees!”

The Humans

Evelyne Scott. Angela Hansen.

The Nutshell

A perverted old man needs to get married. But wait! He’s not just perverted, he’s also loaded, and therefore attracts the attention of every marriageable young women, including Evelyne. Silly Evelyne seems to forget that she’s involved in a steamy lesbian relationship with an unfortunate co-dependent personality. Now, Evelyne must make her choice, a choice between happiness and a crazy chick who wears bullets for belts.

My wife interjects: “Do not have sex with anyone who mixes those purples.”

The Lowdown

How the hell does one review erotica? I’ve tried a couple of times in the past, notably on two other Jean-Marie Pallardy features. Not a lot of critical thought went into those, let me tell you. Years back, I also wrote up a softcore mummy story, and pissed off the director because I didn’t give it the respect it deserved.

(For reference, my favorite part of that particular flick was in the commentary track, when the director said something along the lines of: “It had been awhile since we showed tits, so I told the actress to go topless in this scene.”)

With My Body Burns, I don’t think I can quite take the aloof, ironic angle, because it’s honestly trying to do something a bit more than titillate. A plot holds the thing together, which came as a surprise. Enough of one that I might be tempted to call this thing an “erotic thriller,” and thus feel a bit less guilty about having watched it after work while my pregnant wife did the dishes in the next room.

That kinda makes me wish My Body Burns was worth it. I feel as though I ought to consider this thing as exactly what it set out to be: low-budget, ripped-from-the-headlines crime steeped in sexual politics. I… I just can’t. For one thing, instead of the original language dialogue, the disc is stuck on crappy dubbed English, which makes a hash of both pacing and character interaction.

For another thing, shit like this happens:

For when running across a beach just doesn’t produce enough jiggling.

I pick on erotica as much as possible, at least around here, because I’m half-heartedly convinced it has no critical value, and I don’t have the curiosity to investigate enough to convince myself further. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the stuff, in my own private way.

Private until I can figure out this webcam, anyway.

That said, the analytical portion of my mind is at least partly fascinated by erotica (and pornography) as a social force. That a story like My Body Burns could ever be considered controversial makes me feel like a newborn. By the time I, uh, “blossomed” the Internet had come to town. A little creative age verification set me up so that I was exposed both to images of nudity and concepts of promiscuous sexuality at a young age. Homosexuality, sex as a commodity, bondage — these things didn’t even get the chance to shock me, since I was at such a pliable age when I first encountered them.

Hell, you’d shave off your sideburns too, if it meant sweet French bosom.

“Sexual revolution” means next-to-nothing to me, aside from representing a historical artifact. All these gives me an abstract view of what porn does. Not what you do with porn, but what that facet of free expression does to the world. I admire envelope-pushers, and see their work as not so much leading the way as stretching the elasticity of what is acceptable and respectable.

That’s the extent of the tenuous connection I’ve managed to form to the context of My Body Burns. It’s a curiosity, a remnant of a time when the subject material here might be considered exploitative and provocative rather than dramatic or deeply human. These days, it’s hard to see it as anything more than a poorly-translated, New Wave-aping story about a tragic love triangle. I honestly wish I could see it in a different light, or maybe a different time.

“Get back here, Ellison! Quit being mean and naked!

The Package

The very same supplementary material provided on the other Classics of French Erotica discs, including an hour-long featurette on Pallardy, a number of photograph’s from Pallardy’s personal collection, and trailers.

3 out of 10