Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Last Mistress
Steamy sex scenes are always a good sell...at least towards those audiences who appreciate a little bit of tastefully revealed skin. Okay, maybe not even tasteful...tawdry sex scenes in a credible setting make you feel better about the voyeuristic nature of watching the deed on film. Even if you know that the scene is simulated...it can be, well...titillating. By setting The Last Mistress in the 19th Century, I guess it makes the sex scenes art. And I guess that makes me a connoisseur.
The sex scenes were really the highlight for me in this otherwise drab film. The concept held promise but was poorly executed. A young stud, Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou), carries on an affair for nearly a decade before marrying a rich heiress (Hermangarde, played by Roxane Mesquida), to whom he professes his true love. The relationships between the trio are explored ad naseum through first-hand experiences and rumor-mongering and manipulation of other aristocrats too familiar with the trio.
The plot was okay...sort of a star-crossed love story with some tragedy thrown in. The use of flashbacks kept the pacing of the story moving when it was prone to become sluggish, but the overall story lacked relevance. There was nothing in the characters that captivated me or caused me connect with the film. The story was rather average, the characters bland and predictable and the attention to detail a bit flawed. I will give the film a nod for dialogue that was often interesting or at least unique. I did not find the overall theme of the film to have credibility. The major theme of the movie seemed contradictory to me. I have not read the book (Une Vieille Maîtresse written in 1851 by Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly) upon which this film was based. I think that this may definitely be one of those situations where the novel was better than the film.
The acting was tolerable, but not exceptional. I thought Aattou was okay in the lead role or Ryno, but not stellar. I really did not care for Asia Argento as Vellini, the mistress. Mesquida was nearly invisible as Hermangarde, really only around to pout here and there. It was almost as if her part were an afterthought at times. Ryno spends far more time in dialogue with her grandmother. The supporting cast were solid, but the bulk of the film concentrated on the ebb and flow relationship between Aattou and Argento. I did not feel that their chemistry was convincing.
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