(director/writer: Sande Zeig; screenwriter: story and screenplay by Monique Wittig; cinematographer: Georges Lechaptois; editors: Keiko Deguchi/Geraldine Peroni; music: Richard Robbins; cast: Claire Keim (The Girl), Agathe De La Boulaye (The Artist/Narrator), Cyril Lecomte (The Man), Sandra Nkake (Bu Savè), Ronald Guttman (Bartender), Cyrille Hertel (Bodyguard); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dolly Hall; Artistic License Films; 2000-USA / France-in English)

“The only thing hot about this pic were the tender sex scenes…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A tiresome schoolgirl exercise in creating a film noir for a lesbian relationship story line. There’s an irksome narrator (Agathe de la Boulaye) throughout, dressed manly in a black suit and a white shirt open at the collar, who also co-stars as the Artist in the lesbo affair. As narrator she unnecessarily explains every tedious detail of this attempt to make it both a mystery tale and a character study. The mystery tale never develops and the character study fails to go beyond the surface. The only thing hot about this pic were the tender sex scenes, as both fems had good bods and knew how to use them. The actors had no emotional range. The men were pictured as brutes and mutes. I was left wondering why this wasn’t made into a porn film, as the thin script, lame acting, and the stale dialogue could have been overlooked.

The Narrator/Artist explains in a voice-over that the slinky, sexy singer in the Paris nightclub is only known by her as the Girl (Claire Keim). She lives alone in an elegant hotel located on a side street, has no family, no friends, and apparently has through her good looks and mysterious nature attracted many followers she has cast a spell over. She allows the Narrator to pick her up at the club and sleep with her for what she says will only be a one night stand. Instead a passionate complex relationship develops between the Artist and the Girl, who is also seeing her nightclub boss and other unnamed men. The boss might be her pimp, as that is implied but never revealed. He is certainly a bully and is known as the Man (Cyril Lecomte), and even though he doesn’t love her he is so possessive that he is unwilling to share her with the Artist. There’s also a sneering bodyguard (Hertel) around, who obeys the Man’s commands to keep the Artist away from the Girl. There’s one inane scene where he gets into a fistfight with the Artist in the cellar of the nightclub; a scene that made absolutely no sense.

The Artist has an ongoing on-and-off affair with her black model Bu Savè (Sandra Nkake), who is also a musical composer. Bu’s main purpose in this pic is to be there for the Artist, no matter what. But the Girl is drawn to the chanteuse, also called Agnes D, and is almost drooling over the thought of her when at the nightclub she is fixated on her crooning “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

The flighty singer thinks of herself as an artist, but she’s merely an entertainer beholden to her boss for work. While the Artist is really a struggling artist, and is pictured as someone who is independent and obsessed with the singer.

The Girl was directed and co-written by American director Sande Zeig in her debut film. Monique Wittig is the co-writer and the film is based on her original story. Ms. Zeig compiles an assortment of noir clichés for her characters and sets a shadowy dark mood, but fails to give the film any sense of urgency. The characters were unappealing and the danger the girls were under seemed to hardly matter. The story turns out to be as tedious and pretentious as the dialogue.