The Pornographer (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is the story of Jacques, once the world's greatest pornographer, but retired for two decades and living idly off the income of his architect wife. Suddenly he needs money again, so he decides to go back into the porno biz. Sadly, the industry has passed him by. He intends to make a neo-realistic porn film with muted moaning, no blatant dirty talk, no fingernail polish, and no lurid close-ups. His producer watches a few minutes of the porno film being created, studies the elderly director's lack of involvement, then takes over the direction himself.

Jacques then quits, of course, and bemoans the fact that an industry which once represented rebellion and artistic freedom to him and his friends has degenerated to the point of cookie-cooker commercialization. That's only the beginning of his troubles. His son walked out of his life when he found out about the whole pornography thing, and they are trying to reconcile. Jacques is not doing especially well with his son, and he also manages to alienate his faithful wife and to push away his loyal best friend as well, finally choosing to spend his time in a room alone, writing down his thoughts and navel-gazing about his insignificant place in a vast and meaningless universe, until madness completely overtakes him.

So Le Pornographe is basically Boogie Nights, as reimagined by Dostoevsky and directed by Ingmar Bergman. People staring off into the middle distance. People sitting silently with shoulders hunched in defeat. Somber classical music. One stagy tableaux after another.

I suppose that in addition to being about the way pornography has changed since the idealistic seventies, Le Pornographe is also about the changes in the French film industry, and films in general since that ambitious and individualistic era. Not to mention sex, personal craftsmanship, rock and roll, politics, the environment and anything else you would care to append to the metaphor.

Unlike Boogie Nights, The Pornographer does include explicit sex. In the scene where the producer takes over the sex film's direction from Jacques, we see a porn actress on the receiving end of some thrusting from a well-endowed fellow, and then accepting the traditional faceful of happy juice. Who else but the French would insert an actual porn film into a somber philosophical meditation? The porn actress in the film-within-a-film is played by a real porn actress named Ovidie. Although the film shows penetration, there are no good looks at any of Ovidie's naughty bits except during the ol' in-out.



  • the widecreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced (16x9)
  • the theatrical trailer
  • a short film made by the same director



Ovide does not actually show very much skin, but she does get penetrated on camera, and takes a money shot in her face.

The Critics Vote ...

  • British consensus out of four stars: one star. Mail 0/10, Telegraph 2/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 1/10, Standard 2/10, Express 4/10, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

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, it's a D+. It's technically competent, and artistically ambitious, but pretentious, and more boring than an evening with Tucker Carlson.

Return to the Movie House home page