Brief Crossing (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

How in the hell does crap like this get made? It is a French film about a one-night stand between an English woman and a French boy on the ferry from Le Havre to Portsmouth. It was directed by the woman who directed the controversial Romance X, which was a "mainstream" film with on-screen penetration and gyno shots. Brief Crossing is not so explicit sexually as Romance, but it certainly has its share of shock value, since the women is in her thirties, and the boy is 16.

Now I don't care about the pedophilia aspect, mind you. Let's leave that to the legal and religious authorities.  But I do care about the boredom. You'll remember on Seinfeld that Jerry and George pitched their TV show as a show about nothing. As it turns out, their concept of nothing was a lot more substantial than the content of Brief Crossing. In fact, I have already spoiled the entire film for you, because when I say it is about their one-night stand, I'm not condensing. That is the entire movie.  It is essentially a two character play. They are the only people who speak any words other than incidental dialogue.

Get this:

  • In the first 6:12, the camera follows the boy around the ferry as he looks for a good place to set his suitcase.

  • The next four minutes show him first standing in a cafeteria line, then looking for a place to sit in the lunch room.

    (In that entire ten minute period there is no dialogue except the necessary stuff like "where are the trays?")

  • The boy ends up at the woman's table. The next nine minutes consists of them getting to know one another in a series of facial close-ups. The direction consists of a close up of the boy while he talks, followed by a close-up of the woman as she talks. Nine minutes of that! Back-and-forth, back-and-forth in facial close-ups.

  • The next five minutes consist of duty-free shopping.

  • Then there are 30 minutes in the ship's nightclub, as they get drunk together. Once more, almost all of this scene consists of facial close ups of them as they sit at a table. Making up for the laconic beginning, there is a great deal of dialogue in this section. In fact, these characters are now so chatty that they make Eric Rohmer's characters seem as tight-lipped as Lee Marvin. The kid pretends to be cool, and the woman generalizes her feelings about all males in the world. This is the "character development".

  • This is followed by 5-6 minutes of the most boring sex scene ever filmed, missionary style, her on the bottom, shot almost entirely over her shoulder. She again offers a running commentary on how all men are the same or some such twaddle.

  • Then they go to sleep, awake, shower off and get dressed in her cabin. (The nudity in the sex scene is minimal, but there is full frontal nudity from both of them in the apres-sex scene or the shower/dressing scene.).

  • He goes to get his suitcase, which is not in her cabin. She promises to wait, but does not. She runs off to meet her husband and child.

  • The young man, smitten by love and expecting to see her again, goes through customs, then sees her  - with her family. His eyes mist over. He walks into the sunset or sunrise or something.

Judging from a couple of reader comments at IMDb, I think it was supposed to be a great epiphany that she was using and discarding him, because some dialogue might have led the audience to assume the opposite. That interpretation is not reasonable. Frankly, it is not possible for anyone paying attention to the movie to think that he took the lead in the seduction. He basically minded his own business in the cafeteria, didn't want to sit with her, made no attempt to talk to her. She invited him to the table, then would not let him sit there and eat his meal quietly. Clearly she was orchestrating all of the time they spent together, and just as clearly, she was an emotionally distant person (she rarely even talks about him personally, but only about how he is a metaphor for "the others"), so there was really no surprise that she was simply using him.


Although the quality is rough and the lighting poor, Sarah Pratt and Gilles Guillain do full frontal and rear nudity, including a nearly gynecological shot from Pratt when she gets out of bed.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen letterboxed.

  • interview with the director

If the movie is weak, the DVD is even weaker. I can't tell you whether the poor visual quality of the DVD was created by a poor transfer or by the poor quality of the original print, or both, but I can certify that it is quite poor. It's grainy, the skin tones are off, there's a lot of blurring, and it is too dark. The DVD also presents an inferior letterboxed widescreen version rather than the almost universally standard anamorphic type.

In other words, you really do not want to spend any time with this DVD

The Critics Vote ...

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • It popped up at a few minor film festivals. No North American release, to my knowledge.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is an F as reflected by this particular DVD transfer. Both the script and the cinematography are of laughably poor quality, not only below straight-to-vid zombie movies, but even below the caliber of a good student film. It has long, soporific stretches with nothing happening at all (the first wordless six minutes consist of a kid carrying a suitcase around a ferry!), and the film really has nothing to offer. It courted controversy with its themes and sex scenes, but even the sex scene is boring, and unimaginatively filmed! (It is possible that the lighting and blurring problems result from a poor DVD transfer, but it doesn't seem possible that the score could go any higher than D.)

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