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Confusion of Genders

A racy French sex comedy revolving around a perpetually confused bisexual lawyer, "Confusion of Genders" is likably candid as it dances on the edge of sexual explicitness and taboo behavior. Keeping the atmosphere light and mocking, helmer Ilan Duran Cohen ("Lola Zipper," 1991) and his fine seriocomic cast keep viewers guessing on which side of bed the protag will end up. Despite a few potholes of ennui along the way, pic has enough entertainment value to cross borders and titillate auds with its plentiful nudity and uninhibited sexual mores.

A racy French sex comedy revolving around a perpetually confused bisexual lawyer, “Confusion of Genders” is likably candid as it dances on the edge of sexual explicitness and taboo behavior. Keeping the atmosphere light and mocking, helmer Ilan Duran Cohen (“Lola Zipper,” 1991) and his fine seriocomic cast keep viewers guessing on which side of bed the protag will end up. Despite a few potholes of ennui along the way, pic has enough entertainment value to cross borders and titillate auds with its plentiful nudity and uninhibited sexual mores.

Having just lost a case that bagged his cute-but-dumb young client, Marc (Vincent Martinez), a life sentence for murder, Alain (Pascal Greggory) adds professional depression to his other complaints. Laurence (Nathalie Richard), the attorney who shares his office, is neurotically obsessed with him. She gets pregnant their first time in bed and proposes marriage, whether he loves her or not, but Alain is up in the air even as they get to the altar — a very funny scene with all the relatives in poker-faced attendance.

Meanwhile, Christophe (Cyrille Thouvenin), the sexy teenage brother of Alain’s girlfriend, falls hard for Alain and eventually moves into his apartment. Despite his skills as a lover, Christophe doesn’t end Alain’s fantasies about Marc, whom he visits behind bars. To seduce Marc, Alain agrees to pass messages to the crazed boy’s hairdresser girlfriend, Babette (Julie Gayet), and finds himself getting involved with her, too.

The fact that Cohen is a novelist may explain how he gets away with such a complicated plot, which works so long as the viewer suspends disbelief about Alain’s sexual attractiveness to the whole human race. With his gaunt face, receding hairline and maddening indecisiveness, Greggory creates a comic Everyman Lothario whose confusion is contagious.

Rather than immerse the characters in a fictional story, Cohen has them extensively discuss their relations with one another, peppered with off-the-cuff one-liners (“Love is a prison,” etc.). Full-frontal nudity is casually employed; the frequent sex scenes, however, are too brief to be erotic.

Editor Fabrice Rouaug has a fine control over pic’s pace, which alternates rapid-fire flashes of scenes with slower catch-your-breath moments. Only occasionally does the sexual merry-go-round grow tiring.

Confusion of Genders

France

  • Production: A Haut & Court release of an Alta Loma Films/Fugitive Prods. production. Produced by Didier Boujart. (International sales: UGC Intl., Paris.) Directed by Ilan Duran Cohen. Screenplay, Cohen, Philippe Lasry.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Jeanne Lapoire; editor, Fabrice Rouaug; music, Jay-Jay Johanson; art director, Francoise Dupertuis. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival (competing), Nov. 12, 2000. (Also in London Film Festival.) Running time: 94 MIN.
  • With: Alain - Pascal Greggory Laurence - Nathalie Richard Marc - Vincent Martinez Etienne - Alain Bashung Babette - Julie Gayet Christophe - Cyrille Thouvenin
  • Music By: