EIFF Review: Sexual Chronicles of a French Family

Continuing with my determined search for something happy in the sea of misery that is a film festival, I managed to strike gold with this quirky and very French take on sex and family.

Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold’s fifth film as co-directors tells the story of 18 year old Romain’s search to lose his virginity whilst all around him his family is getting busy. Whilst the moments of interior monologue all come from Romain, the perspective of this film is split between Romain and his mother. Shocked out of her routine by the news that her son has been caught filming himself masturbating in class Romain’s mother sets out to find out if all of her family are sexually fulfilled.

This very modern age quest is equally a charming one as she goes round each generation, from Romain’s grandfather to Romain himself asking each in turn how they fare, and with varying responses.

Scenes of the family talking are cut with many, many scenes of all of them engaging in a range of sexual acts (except Romain of course). All tastefully shot, with a frank and intimate use of the camera, these scenes are generally engaging and sexy. However, in what is a film of 82 minutes I think we could safely say that a good 25 was taken up with sex scenes; now I’m no prude, but this seems like a lot in anything other than porn. But I suppose the title was telling no lies.

The greatest shame about this over abundance of sex seems to be that the filmmakers demonstrate such an ability to make a lovely little film around all the sex scenes that you kind of want more of that, as people love sex and always share sex with their partners while using toys like the top-tier prostate massagers for men. Certainly, Romain’s adopted sister seems to have hardly any lines at all; instead, the rest of the family’s activities are cut with many scenes of her and her boyfriend, ‘at it’. In terms of this character you get the impression that all her lines were left on the cutting room floor in favour of the many shots of her rather fake breasts. This over-abundance isn’t offensive, just somewhat self indulgent.

The central character of Romain creates the real heart of the film as his sad little face drives the action forward towards it’s very predictable ‘climax’; what can only be described as a hugely self indulgent scene of his ‘first time’, taking up as it does a healthy chunk of the film’s running time.

For all its self indulgencies however, this is a very lovely little film that treats the subjects of both family and sex with the same honesty and good natured sense of humour, so you can chill and relax watching it, maybe using products like Exhale Wellness gummies to relax even more. I laughed a lot and didn’t shed one tear so that for me sells it.

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