In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_aprsjzadl6cggwjedxexw7kfnbc

Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Le Sex Shop

  |  

To begin with, the real title of Claude Berri's "Le Love Shop" is "Le Sex Shop," which is a perfectly authentic Americanized French phrase, like "Le Drugstore," that used to drive de Gaulle batty. The title was changed in Chicago newspapers at the insistence of advertising departments, which are under the impression that the word "sex" in a movie title is objectionable.

The notion that it might actually be more objectionable to suggest that love can be sold in a shop - but not sex - apparently didn't occur. In another current movie, "I Refuse to Have Sex with Anyone Who Has So Little Regard for My Husband," the title has likewise been changed to read "love." It's as if the ad men have everything turned around. But then who can forget the classic case of the ads for "Hagbard and Signe," in which a judicious brassiere was drawn in - but on Hagbard, not Signe?

Well, you can't win 'em all. "Le Sex Shop," in any event, is an amusing and observant little comedy about a very middle-class man whose bookstore is losing money faster than his wife can spend it. In desperation, he opens a sex department store with full lines of books, magazines, films, strange devices that buzz and glow and what he describes as leather goods.

All manner of people rush in from the streets to sample his wares, including an elderly gentleman who explains he's been collecting erotica since 1911. Since the proprietor is fairly naive sexually, the old man delivers a lecture in which he draws a line between "true fetishists" and those who are merely gauche hobbyists. The most dedicated fetishists in the movie are also the most amusing characters: They're a dentist and his wife, who are rubber fetishists, exhibitionists, voyeurs and indefatigable mate-swappers. The proprietor (played by Claude Berri himself) hesitantly samples the world of swinging, but nothing seems to work out right. The girl he brings home for a menage a trois, for example, lusts not for Claude but for his wife.

The movie is presented as a comedy, and Berri has made some good ones (his "The Two of Us" is one of my favorites). But it isn't really funny, and doesn't seem meant to be. It's bittersweet. It's about the loneliness and desperation which are so often masked by frenetic swingers' fun and games. It's about the ways in which sex can exist apart from human respect, and be the poorer for it. It is (in an ironic coincidence) a movie about why sex can be sold in the shop, but not love.

Popular Blog Posts

Hashtag Activism and the #CancelColbert campaign

The recent #CancelColbert campaign on Twitter raises all kinds of issues about racism, but also about hashtag activism.

For the love of it: notes on the decline of Entertainment Weekly, the firing of Owen Gleiberman, and the ongoing end of an era

Owen Gleiberman's sacking as lead film critic of Entertainment Weekly — part of a ritual bloodletting of staffers at ...

One Year Later: Richard Roeper on Roger

Richard Roeper reflects on his long friendship and professional association with Roger Ebert.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus