Actress/director/producer Ovidie is something of a celebrity over in Europe, but here in the U.S. she remains fairly unknown, her output being limited to mature arthouse audiences who aren’t offended by explicit sexual situation in their European films.
Ovidie (she refuses to use her given name) is a philosopher (for which she holds a degree), an author, and a militant feminist who studies pornography as a means to understand and more clearly define gender power roles within the pornographic industry. Originally she felt sorry for women who she felt were being taken advantage of until she came in contact with several porn actresses and realized that, regardless of how they were portrayed on film, they were the ones with the most power. Wanting to explore this power more deeply, Ovidie herself became a pornographic actress. She now directs so-called "women-friendly" porn films and is associated with both Lars von Trier’s Zentropa production company as well as the French TV channel FrenchLover TV.
With Infidelity–a companion piece to the earlier Sex Stories (2009)–Ovidie continues her feminist platform while also continuing to explore pornography that crosses over into the mainstream. Infidelity is an amalgam of three stories about three different middle-aged couples all of which are going through some type of crisis involving sex. Alban has just turned 50 and is having an affair with a woman half his age (and the age of his own son). Alban’s psychologist wife knows of the affair but intellectualizes it as simply a middle-age crisis. But Alban’s mistress has fallen for him and wants him to leave his wife. She becomes a stalker in the Fatal Attraction-style, harassing Alb an, sending his wife death threats, and even pursuing Alban’s son in an attempt to make Alban jealous. Patrick has struck a bargain with his wife who allows him one day a week to sleep with whomever he wants. But when Patrick’s wife comes home unexpectedly and sees how young one of his "trysts" is, she begins to question the wisdom of their deal. And finally there is Jean-Marc, a nymphomaniac who spends a great deal of time on porn sites fantasizing about group sex. While his wife is much more open-minded about sex than he thinks, he alienates her by spending too much time on the websites and not enough with her. She turns the tables on him by convincing him to include her in his fantasies.
Infidelity is a mainstream comedy/drama that crosses the line into pornography. Using supposedly mainstream actors who have bravely extended their roles to include actual sex acts, Ovidie (sometimes dubbed "the porn star intellectual" by industry professionals) can’t conceal her feminist ways. The situations all portray and stereotype men as lying, cheating adulterers who just can’t help themselves. The women are portrayed as intellectual, if a bit powerless, but ultimately they get their way. The dialogue for each of the males is scattered with lamentations of their weakness and stupidity while their wives are portrayed as victims of the male ego. Even when Alban’s psychologist wife picks up an anonymous young stud so she can turn the tables on her husband, she refuses to use names and insists on giving the young man money, a humiliation he is willing to accept because he’s male, the message being that all men think with their genitals and cease to be pragmatic at all once sex is offered. This message is again driven home when Patrick gets into a discussion with a prostitute he’s just had sex with. He demeans her and her profession while she lectures him on his hypocrisy, wryly pointing out he "probably has a lonely wife waiting for him at home." As the prostitute haughtily rises from the bed to leave, Ovidie has yet again turned the tables and made the woman the powerful individual in this one-time sexual relationship.
Though Ovidie can’t help but fill her film with blatant male-bashing, if one can manage to overlook this, Infidelity can be an entertaining film. Perhaps because (most) of the actors typically work in mainstream film, Infidelity contains very strong acting. Each character seems authentic as each deals with their own issues. The sex scenes are generally more erotic and passionate than the typical porn scene, partly because of a very good, subtly erotic musical score. There is some light comedy which also helps and made me laugh out loud a couple of times, and most of the characters are generally likeable despite their numerous faults.
Infidelity is better than Ovidie’s Sex Stories if one can overlook the obvious political agenda contained within the film. The film is being released on October 30 by Breaking Glass Pictures. For more information, go to www.breakingglasspictures.com.