The Girl (1999) from Tuna

The Girl (1999) is a minimalist noir lesbian erotic film, and the first feature film from Sande Zeig. It is shot in Paris, and uses French performers, but is in English. It took Zeig over 5 years to get this film produced, mainly due to difficulty finding funding. It is the story of a young lesbian painter (Agathe De La Boulaye) who is in a committed relationship with pianist Sandra Nkake. Their understanding is that each will sometimes be with other women. Boulaye is infatuated with a straight nightclub singer, Claire Keim, who is straight, but willing to experiment. Keim shares nothing with her but sex, and also sleeps with a host of men, mostly shady nightclub owners whom she thinks will help her career. Her boss is the meanest and most possessive of the bunch, and sees Boulaye as a threat. This leads to escalating violence.

The film has great nudity, including full frontal, from Keim, breasts from Nkake, and full frontal from Hélène Juren as a figure model in art class. The director intentionally went for abstraction in the sex scenes, showing lots of close-ups of unidentifiable patches of skin, as she thought that was more erotic. I disagree completely with her here. I found these close-ups of skin tone to be completely boring.  The atmosphere of the film, from the Left Bank locations, to the nightclub interiors, to the hotel where Keim lived, was consistent, and together with a great mellow jazz sound track, evoked a mood that will be with me for a while. The film has minimal dialogue, and is mostly narrated by the artist character.


see the main commentary

Critics weren't kind:

"A piss-poor attempt at soft core lesbian porn."

"Dreary, leaden lesbian film-noir."

"Unfortunately, what you'll remember most are a pretty face and the hot and steamy sex scenes. That is not enough."
-- Marta Barber, MIAMI HERALD

"The grandiose tendencies do not seriously diminish the film's significant equation of love and freedom."
-- Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen format

I think Zeig achieved exactly what she wanted to in this film, but am undecided as to whether or not that is a good thing. She nailed the ambiance, and had an interesting looking cast, but, for me, it was not very erotic, taught no great truths about lesbianism, and could have used a lot more in the way of plot. Yet, the imagery and sound track did make an impression on me. So, if you like "minimalist noire lesbian erotic film," be sure and see this one. Otherwise, you will probably not want to bother.  

The Critics Vote

  • 2.5/5

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or 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. 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.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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