The Bathers (2003) / Drama
aka Les Baigneuses
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be NC-17 for strong sexual content and language
Running Time: 83 min.
Cast: Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Ann-Gisel Glass, Andre Marcon, Nadege Beausson-Diagne, Carolkim Tran, Gregory Fitoussi, Laurence Gormezano, Charlie Bazire, Aissa Maiga
Director: Viviane Candas
Screenplay: Viviane Candas
Review published July 7, 2003
One of the reasons pornography and dramatic plots don't mix well has to do with each tending to cancel the other out. Had The Bathers been a straight porn flick or a straight drama, there would have been potential for some marginally interesting entertainment, depending on what it was you were looking to see coming in. As a mixture of both, each element trips over the other vying for precious screen time, and as a result, both elements become quite boring.
The main storyline takes place within a somewhat dingy peepshow and adult video store in Paris, one of the last remaining live shows since videos started becoming more popular and police started cracking down. The manager of the place is jumpy enough as it is, but things get even more tense when a mysterious stranger walks in looking to meet one of the girls in person. The stranger has been recently released from prison after many years for killing his wife for appearing in a nude pictorial, and now he wants to meet this girl that looks like his former spouse.
It's pretty easy to figure out where things are going early on, and once you do, the film goes nowhere afterward. Even at a meager 83 minutes, The Bathers is overlong, not really having enough of a story to mandate a full-length feature, and not really sexy enough to pass as good erotica. It's just a lot of nude women, poor cinematography, and bad melodrama, all rolled up in an unsavory package for those who like heavy-handed skin flicks, like those serious porn films made in the 70s. There is an artistic element, which is obvious considering the title, heavy in symbolism and allusions, that saves this from descending into the bottom of the barrel, but not nearly enough to make it truly compelling.
As a character in the movie states, once you do one porn flick, you'll never do anything else. If this is the kind of humdrum moviemaking first-time writer/director Viviane Candas intends to make more of in the future, I'm not sure whether to interpret that as a good or bad thing.
©2003 Vince Leo