The Sexual Life of the Belgians

This autobiographical first feature by a well-known and slightly notorious Belgian writer, designer, producer and conceptual artist turns out to be a quite charming and often funny satire of sexual manners and mores between 1950 and 1978. Not as harsh as Belgians apparently expected from Jan Bucquoy, the film is funny and sexy enough to find some arthouse approval.

With:
Jan Bucquoy - Jean-Henri Compere
Jan as a child - Noe Francq
Noella Bucquoy - Isabelle Legros
Therese - Sophie Schneider
Ariane Bucquoy - Pascale Binneri
Aunt Martha - Michele Shor
Mia - Dorothee Capelluto

This autobiographical first feature by a well-known and slightly notorious Belgian writer, designer, producer and conceptual artist turns out to be a quite charming and often funny satire of sexual manners and mores between 1950 and 1978. Not as harsh as Belgians apparently expected from Jan Bucquoy, the film is funny and sexy enough to find some arthouse approval.

According to the narration, spoken by Bucquoy himself, his interest in sex began at his mother’s breast, but growing up in a small provincial town with bickering, ineffectual parents proved stultifying. One escape was an immensely romantic visit to the cinema with his sister to see “Johnny Guitar” (the Victor Young theme music for Nicholas Ray’s film crops up occasionally, and Peggy Lee sings the brief title song at the end of Bucquoy’s pic).

His first sexual experience was with a schoolgirl who allowed him to look but not touch; later, on a drab seaside holiday in a caravan, an older boy furthered his sex education during the screening of a Laurel and Hardy two-reeler.

Jan’s life is filled with beautiful women, including the teacher who kept crossing and uncrossing her legs, and a beautiful aunt who showed him her body because she felt it was no secret.

Eventually, Jan winds up in Brussels and becomes a political activist of the ’60s. Here there are sexual encounters galore before he winds up in a disastrous , short-lived marriage that results in two children. After this is over, the affairs with women continue; one night he finds himself involved with both a mother and her free-thinking daughter.

There’s a charming insouciance to all of this, as Bucquoy tells his story candidly and with a sharp sense of humor that mocks Belgian stuffiness and parochialism.

Jean-Henri Compere is fine as the soulful hero. Among the parade of women who pass by, standouts are Sophie Schneider as the woman he marries and Michele Shor as his ultra-liberated aunt.

The Sexual Life of the Belgians

Belgian

Production: A Transatlantic Films production. Produced, directed, written by Jan Bucquoy. Executive producer, Francoise Hoste.

Crew: Camera (Agfacolor), Michel Baudour; editor, Matyas Veress; production design, Nathalie Andre; sound, Jean-Gregoire Mekhitarian. Reviewed at Cannes Festival (market), May 13, 1994. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: Jan Bucquoy - Jean-Henri Compere
Jan as a child - Noe Francq
Noella Bucquoy - Isabelle Legros
Therese - Sophie Schneider
Ariane Bucquoy - Pascale Binneri
Aunt Martha - Michele Shor
Mia - Dorothee Capelluto

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