Odoul’s erotic histoire
Discovered at Venice through his debut film Deep Breath, Damien Odoul returns to the festival with L’histoire de Richard O. [+see also:
film profile], the first European title to compete in the Horizons section.
A quiet and meticulous artist, who produces and writes the screenplays for his films, the director of After We’re Gone here explores the erotic bulimia of Richard (Mathieu Amalric), plunging the viewer into a summertime Paris by night from the very beginning, in which the character breaks his neck in the bedroom due to an unrequited urge (and a broken promise).
The rest of the film is a flashback spanning the last few days of the life of the protagonist, who satisfies the fantasies of young women interviewed in the street: some want to have sex with a stranger, others gets aroused by the idea of revealing their physical and emotional scars, and others still dream of being raped. It is precisely this frustrated desire for rape (with psychoanalytic disquisitions that recall Marco Bellocchio’s The Condemnation) that will lead Richard to his death. He returns, however, to haunt the dreams of his rather slow friend (Stéphane Terperaud), who imagines Richard in a Fellini-esque otherworld filled with women.
The film demands a tour de force performance from Amalric – the current start of French auteur cinema, who does not limit himself to arthouse films alone, however – not unlike the sexual performance required of his character. Often crossing the boundary into hardcore territory, Odoul leaves little to the imagination.
Judging from the unruffled reactions among the press, explicit sex is no longer a taboo. The fact that it has not caused a scandal can only work in the film’s favour, for this is a work that does not aim for sensationalism but to show one man’s fulfilment through women’s desires.
The subject matter (and effect) of the film is controversial, enlightened by a short ironic scene in which the protagonist is beaten up in a cinema, ignored by two filmgoers engrossed in the old, black and white documentary they are watching. The scene is barely three minutes long and would not have been out of place in the film A chacun son cinema.
The film is being sold internationally by Wild Bunch and in French cinemas will be forbidden to those under 16 years of age. In France Bac Films will start distributing L’histoire de Richard O. on September 19.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.