A MON SEUL DESIR (My Sole Desire )(France 2023) **
Directed by Lucie Borleteau
The Paris strip club À mon seul désir (My Sole Desire) is home to a mesmerizing troupe of seductive female performers. Like a moth to a flame, newcomer Manon (Louise Chevillotte) is drawn to their sensual allure and adopts the stage name Aurore (name taken from The Sleeping Beauty). Among her fellow dancers is audience favourite Mia (César Award winner Zita Hanrot), a beautiful, aspiring actress who moonlights at the club unbeknownst to her live-in boyfriend. From identifying which clients she should avoid to booking private dances, Mia serves as a trusted guide on Manon’s erotic journey. But even as Manon begins to experiment with riskier propositions that Mia will not pursue, it is not long before the two begin to develop romantic feelings for one another. Navigating the complexities of this new life, Manon must face questions about her sexuality as the line between professional and personal desire starts to blur.
Though not touted, MON SEUL DESIR bears similarity to the tacky Paul Verhoeven’s film SHOWGIRLS in which Nomi Malone, a young drifter hitchhikes to Las Vegas hoping to make it as a showgirl. SHOWGORLS got panned by critics and was considered one of the worst 20 movies of all time but became a box-office hit when released on video. MON SEUL DESIr tries its best to be serious just as SHOWGIRLS did, but ends up being exploitative, tacky and overall boring after a while, sexually suggestive scenes aside,
Dialogue is at best witty but can also be considered corny at times. Sample: “Those who drag others through the mud often have dirty feet.” The thing is not to take this film too seriously, but even that the film is still hard to take in, especially for its long-running game of almost 2 hours.
The film has good production values, especially in the creating of atmosphere, be it at the strip club or a dance club. The accompanying music on the soundtrack is lively and catchy too.
If one wants sexy titillating fun with erotic and suggestive dance moves, this striptease film might be the one for you, as there is a lot of teasing. But it is not unlike anything one has not seen before, in other erotic-themed movies or in a real-life strip club. Even the false orgasm scene looks manipulative and artificial to the point of ridiculousness. The key line on the film poster goes: Ever been to a strip club before? Director Boreleteau does her best to make her film as erotic as she can with grinding dances and often with girl-on-girl movements. But all this gets to be a bit boring, especially when there is nothing concrete in the story or build-up in the protagonist’s character. It does not take a genius to see where the film is headed in terms of story, not that anyone cares. The silly tacked-on happy ending where everyone comes together in a big party does not work either.
The film premieres via VOD & Digital on February 9th.