TIFF 2018 Review: “Les Salopes or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin” (2018) ★★★★

© Filmoption International

Canadian cinema is quite rich, but unfortunately its pure wealth remains unknown to the world while it’s still stuck softly and quietly in its own created boundaries. That of course keeps changing as the narrative it proposes goes beyond its drawn map where the viewer finally can find himself on the same page. That page, again, will have to be revisited with “Les Salopes or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin” written and directed by Renée Beaulieu. Because what it has to offer is, most likely, nothing like you’ve ever seen before. And if you have, I am sure, it would not have been as good as Renée Beaulieu’s piece.

How much do we know about our own feelings, sexuality, what we want or don’t want when it comes to intimacy? But what about our brain? How does it respond to the pleasure or how does it even receive it? Marie-Claire is a Dermatology professor who studies desire and sexuality. Her main goal is to identify how does desire, pleasure, and love blend through skin cells to sexuality. But during her research, an unexpected event disrupts not just her experiment but her ideal and happy marriage life as well.

Marie-Claire, before entering into physical sexual contact with a participant as part of her experiment, takes the sample of her skin and her participant’s before and after the entire process, hoping it might help her to finalize her research. In the meantime, her marriage life could not get any better. Adam is a loving and caring husband. Her two children, Virgile (a son) and Katou (daughter) are successfully carrying on with their own life. But that is only a facade after Katou, Marie-Claire’s daughter, tells her own mother, “Mom, I think I am not normal.”

Marie-Claire’s voice narrates to us the following – “The skin is the body’s largest organ. Touch, the sense closely associated with it, is the first to develop in the embryo, the only sense without which human beings can’t survive.” As part of the research, Marie-Claire truly expands her exploration into sexuality, satisfaction and desire. And when her husband asks her, “Don’t I satisfy you?” after realizing how far their open relationship went, Marie-Claire’s response was more than enough not only for him, but even for the viewer to understand the whole point of Renée Beaulieu’s movie – “What does that mean? The day I’m satisfied, I’ll have no more desires. I have them and I want them.”

In the end, “Les Salopes or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin” is simply a brilliant film. Even though it’s been loaded with nudity and graphic scenes, it never felt unnecessary or annoying. Everything you’re about to see has its own purpose to serve. As it goes deep into a woman’s mind, it captures the man’s feelings as well and their important role in stimulating the skin cells that, perhaps, sends the right waves to the brain for Marie-Claire to receive, process and evaluate that. As for the performance, big credit must go to Brigitte Poupart whose vision and trust in Marie-Claire boosts her confidence enough to step aside from her comfort zone and begin exploring the most darling feeling we all have – love for our own selves.

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