Le pornographe (2001)


(director/writer/editor: Doug Atchison; cinematographer: Christopher Mosio; cast: Michael DeGood (Paul Ryan), Craig Wasson (Spano), Monique Parent (Charise), Katheryn Cain (Kate), Rena Riffel (Tiffany), Todd Feder (Randy), Marjorie Harris (Teresa), Kelly Stone (Natalie); Runtime: 86; Integrity Pictures; 1999)
“A humorless look at the film industry.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Paul Ryan (Michael DeGood) is a 25-year-old para-legal who is socially retarded. He realizes his sexual needs through paying for hookers and by collecting porno videos. After a series of rejections with eligible women, Paul goes into the porno business as a director. This is a film that uses the porn business as its background, but is really about the loneliness and the corruption of an individual.

This low-budget indie is mostly a character study of how ‘an ordinary guy’ such as Paul could descend into the seedy world of porno all because he doesn’t know how to get a date. He rationalizes his plight by saying in a voiceover, “My parents said sex is a bad thing.”

Paul hooks up with the sleazy porno producer Spano (Craig Wasson) after he starts making amateur porno films about his fantasy life. He reasons the quality of the commercial porno films is so poor, he can easily make better films. The successful ‘porno king’ encourages him to get away from using hookers and to start getting fresh girls, as he encourages him to get into the business to make some good money. He also sends him a veteran porno actress who is currently out of favor with him, Charise (Monique Parent), to see if he can make a film with her that he could produce. She tells Paul she saved her dough and wants to go into business for herself, with Paul as her director. When Paul bites at her offer, he soon finds she’s a user just like the men in that industry. He thereby returns to work for Spano, as he begins to see how rotten this business is.

Paul corrupts an innocent neighbor and aspiring actress who just moved to LA, Kate (Katheryn Cain), by getting her to do some bikini shots for a test video, which he gets her to sign a release for by telling her the business is about taking risks to get ahead. He then manipulates her to do a porno sex film by telling her “This is about making dreams come true.” He then sells the porno flick to Spano for a handsome profit. When she wants the film back because she would be embarrassed if her family ever saw it and threatens suicide, he goes to Spano to retrieve it. Spano treats him with contempt and the confused Paul is filled with rage as he questions who he is and what he did, and he returns to Spano’s office with a gun.

The film was a humorless look at the sleaze industry, but fared better at telling the story of a disturbed and lonely young man who is estranged from society. It had an anti-septic and unsexy look, as its sex scenes were not erotic. It seemed like a film made by outsiders, who took easy shots at the sleaze industry but had little emotional impact. It also had a bogus moral message about the suffering Paul would go through because he did wrong and the severe price he must pay for his mistakes.