Review: My Sole Desire
- Lucie Borleteau dares to attempt a pop fairy tale, a joyful, unvarnished romcom which de-dramatises the strip-club world, rendering it as tender as it is inflammatory
For young PhD student Manon, far from being (just) a last-resort need to engage in sordid activities in order to make ends meet, stripping is also a means to explore her relationship with desire. Just as she thinks, upon entering into the lair of sensuality, that she’s exploring her potential to awaken her desire, she ends up encountering another desire of an overwhelming kind. She who thought she’d be meeting toxic women actually encounters fairies and muses, friends and lovers. The film opens onto a mesmerising dancer who invites us, facing the camera, to enter into her little erotic playhouse, not in search of love, "you’re not going to find it here" (she lies), but to confront us with our deepest desires. This address, these lights, the care taken over the outfits and choreography lead us into a kind of metaverse, where strippers are in charge, having chosen their own destiny, who set their bodies and hearts to work in order to stir up desire. A troop of generous women, purveyors of pleasure and joy, who have created a space of freedom for themselves, where naked bodies and fantasies rejoice.
There’s no misplaced modesty here; bodies are shown in all their glory, experiencing and simulating pleasure, alongside lesbian love between women and the excitement felt by men. The story at the heart of My Sole Desire - Lucie Borleteau’s third feature film screening in a world premiere at the 38th Love International Film Festival Mons - revolves around an irresistible attraction, the love at first sight felt by Manon and Mia, an aspiring actress who practices her craft before an audience. A deep friendship and uncontrollable love bind them together. But whilst Manon has everything to gain from these little games of love and chance, Mia has a lot more to lose.
This little theatre of bodies and seduction depicted in the first half of the film gradually gives way to other, more complex questions, when peddling desire takes place outside of its walls. The film doesn’t hide the risks inherent to this profession, of being tempted not by "easy money, but fast money", the transition from erotic performances to prostitution, volatile situations, physical attacks and rape. But the heroines of this modern fairy tale take charge of their desire, laying claim to their right to freedom both for their bodies and their sexes. "Step outside girls, you decide on your limits."
And then there’s love, which "grows like a weed in the most unexpected places." Whilst the tale could be said to drift somewhat in the final part of the film, and the dénouement seems a long time coming, joy does ultimately reassert itself, offering up an ending full of mirth, pleasure and female solidarity. Because, whilst My Sole Desire – whose tone refuses to settle on either romantic or dramatic comedy - revolves around the exploration of Manon’s erotic life and her encounter with Mia, it will be Louise Chevillotte and Zita Hanrot’s daring performances that we’ll remember as we exit cinemas, and the gay and sensual scenes of sorority binding the girls together.
My Sole Desire is produced by Apsara Films. Distribution in France (on 5 April) and international sales are both entrusted to Pyramide.
(Translated from French)
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