Monday, August 14, 2017


This right here is prime New French Extremity cinema (a French film label/movement from the early 00's). It has everything you'd expect from the genre all in one: isolated moments of brutal violence, sexual repression/confusion, sex crimes, three-ways, full frontal nudity, etc.
This movie also features PINNLAND EMPIRE favorite Alice Houri who, in my opinion, is quietly one of the most important figures from the New French Extremity Movement. Names like Gaspar Noe, Bruno Dumont, Claire Denis, Bertrand Bonello & more are associated with this genre but those are all directors. They're behind the camera. With the exception of folks like Tiresia co-star Lucas Laurent & Marina De Van (who is also a writer & director) there are very few repeat ACTORS to pop up the the various New French Extremity films. Alice is an exception. And not only is she a New French Extremity regular, but she makes appearances in some of the better/more challenging films/scenes from the genre (even in cameos her presence is truly felt)...

The Pornographer
Trouble Every Day

I'm not sure if Betrand Bonello is a pervert (which isn't exactly all bad as long as it's to no one's detriment) or just very very open sexually. Sexual Lines are often blurred and/or crossed in his films. With The Pornographer (also co-starring Alice Houri) Bertrand used real pornographic actors & actresses having real sex on camera. In The Portrait Of An Artist (a film starring but not directed by Bonello) he essentially plays himself and we see him in bisexual orgies and other scenarios some might consider to be kinky and/or perverse. The House Of Tolerance delves in to the kinky and sometimes sadistic sexual desires of men and the movie of discussion, Tiresia, is full of awkward, cringeworthy and problematic issues concerning sex & sexuality.
It's difficult to not personalize & associate Bertrand Bonello with his own films. If he isn't playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself (The Portrait Of The Artist), his films are about his own life or the art of filmmaking (On War & The Pornographer).

In Tiresia we follow a trans prostitute who is kidnapped and held against her will by a priest. This priest is attracted to Tiresia but only as a trans woman. This becomes a problem because Tiresia needs to take her hormone medicine regularly in order to stay a women but she's held captive and has no way of getting them. The priest doesn't seem to get this and over time our protagonist makes the unwanted transition back to a male. Frustrated by this, the priest - who has now lost his attraction to Tiresia in her male form - disfigures her and leaves her for dead (she's eventually rescued and nursed back to health minus her new incurable disfigurement).
The second half of the film then shifts in to a story about religion, faith & transformation

Former New French Extremity all-star Bruno Dumont is often considered to be the heir to Robert Bresson's throne but I think Bonello deserves to share that throne. While Bresson would never make a film like Tiresia (or just about anything from the new French Extremity) his influence is all over Bertrand's film. Lucas Laurent's priest (along with certain specific scenes) are right out of Diary Of A Country Priest...

Tiresia / The Diary Of A Country Priest (Bresson)
or The Trial Of Joan Of Arc...

The Trial Of Joan Of Arc / Tiresia

Tiresia is also an example of The New French Extremity’s ability to be mature. True – a lot of these extreme films from the very late 90’s through the mid-00’s were partially about shock value, jump scares & other provocative moments (Tiresia certainly has plenty of that from unsimulated orgies to isolated moments of graphic violence) but filmmakers like Bonello & Dumont have a connection/fascination with the generations of French cinema that came before them which shows maturity and a respect for history.

Not only does Bertrand Bonello tip his hat to his elder Claire Denis by casting two of her regulars (Alice Houri & Alex Descas)…

But he also throws in some visual references to older French filmmakers like Jean Cocteau…
The Blood Of A Poet / Tiresia

Our priest character (played by New French Extremity regular Lucas Laurent) is a new take on the bad/sexually repressed religious figure (I was going to say a "breath of fresh air" but that wouldn't sound right). Instead of children, a trans woman is his victim this time around. while it is my opinion that children do make up the majority of the victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, all types of people can be and are victims of sexual abuse both inside & outside of the church. It should be noted how excellent Laurent plays his part in this film. While he certainly is the "villain", he plays the priest character like he's the victim or someone worthy of sympathy. If you taken certain isolated scenes from that movie out of context you'd think you were watching a film about a lonely priest going through an existential crisis.

In My Skin
Pola X

Large sections of society like to act as if the trans/LGBT community doesn't exist. Furthermore, trans women are being attacked, abused & murdered at an alarming rate. But mainstream media platforms rarely ever report this because, like I just said, the trans community is often ignored. this is one of the few films that gives an unflinching look at the abuse trans women face.


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