Cliente – A French Gigolo

The French handle sex in cinema far better than any country, in my humble opinion. Especially better than America who still giggles at it and acts like a teenager who just found his first porno under his dad’s bed. It’s for this reason I chose to see Cliente – A French Gigolo.

This story follows Judith (Nathalie Baye). An elegant entrepreneur in her fifties, Judith unapologetically engages male escorts to minister to her sexual pleasure. When she answers Patrick’s ad, she’s charmed by the sensitive fellow in the classic suit; it’s as if he stepped right out of the Nouvelle Vague films of her youth. But from the get-go, things with this good-natured gent aren’t as efficient as with other lovers. Not only is he unable to sustain an erection on their second date, but power dynamics and his private life begin to muddy their arrangement.

At home in the Paris projects, Patrick (Eric Caravaca) is buckling under pressure to support a gaggle of demanding relatives, including his adorable wife, Fanny (Isabelle Carré), who’s getting wise to his secret financial scheme. And just as you think they’ll be propelled onto predictable paths befitting characters in a less-playful, less astute story, Judith, Patrick, and Fanny veer into murky emotional terrain, reluctantly getting tangled in a bittersweet triangle.

This is the seventh film of French director Josiane Balasko, who always keeps women at the center of her films.  She adapted the screenplay from her very own novel.  The best part of Cliente is how it deals with female desires.  And not just the sexual ones.  Balasko keeps a perfectly even tone, balancing between comedy, and drama.  While this wasn’t the heavily meditative piece I thought it would be, I was pleasantly surprised by the story and the excellent characters Balasko brought to life.  The cast was an admirable one.  Nathalie Baye, whom you may remember from last year’s Tell No One hits all the right notes with her bold performance.  The film does slightly lose it’s tight pacing in the final act, but you’ll be able to forgive it.  Anyone would be able to enjoy Cliente.  As long as they can get into a rated R movie.

★★★☆

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