Erotically Appealing, but Excessively Talkative, and Static, Too,
This review is from: Élève libre NO ENGLISH (DVD)
This Belgian-French film ("Élève libre", of which the English-language title is "Private Lessons") is a sexually highly charged movie, when it gets into that gear. However, it can take awhile before the actors get beyond long stretches of yak-a-tee-yak-yak-yak. There also are way too many scenes in which they dine, snack, and/or drink, daintily and elegantly, but tiresomely too frequently. The film is very conversational (except in the "wannabe-pro" young athlete's grunting bouts of playing tennis), which makes the lack of alike an English soundtrack or subtitles in English (or in any other language) an hardship in the North American DVD edition (Alliance/Vivafilm 110453) which I own and have viewed. There are, however, other ways and DVD product(s) to see this film in French with subtitles (and some bonus features, too, lacking on the edition viewed). Then, too, the film has long stretches of rather static inaction (other than the mouths of all and sundry droning on), which probably resulted in the film having been inexpensive to make, but a bit tiring to watch. The lighting, however, is no sign whatsoever of cheap production, for this film is exceptionally well-lit and visually well conceived.
The sex is most frequently between adolescents (the youth and his girlfriend), but also, consensuallly, between adult and adolescent, the young male athlete of sixteen coaxed into inappropriate activity (i.e. heterosexually and homosexually), urged on by the mature male who has taken him under wing to help him in his studies, and on the part two other adults who take an improper sexual interest in him and enjoy exhibiting themselves sexually, undressed, at least once, before him and his mentor. The male of this couple, both of whom are younger than the teen athlete's sponsor but who are older than the youth himself, exhibit themselves completely undressed, sexually performing before the on-looking youth and his mentor. The male of that couple is exceptionally handsome alike of face and physique. In one scene the adults blindfold the teen and the woman fellates him, giving way to the younger of the adult males who takes his turn and excites the youth (who, unseeing, does not realise the change in fellator) more than the woman does. That kind of thing may be too risqué for many viewers; worse for those with such scruples are the scenes in which the mentor, whose growing sexual obsession with the attractive youth eventually overcomes his qualms, has oral and abruptly halted posterior sex with him and who eventually becomes physically abusive to the young athlete when he attempts to confront the conflicted feelings to which their unequal relationship give rise in him.
The sex acts portrayed are disturbing, but seldom anywhere close to very graphic. As for the law, the legal age of consent in Belgium, alike for heterosexual or for homosexual sex, is sixteen, so the lad, as depicted, is just barely "of age", although the actor himself who depicts the young athlete, from what I read somewhere, was only fifteen at the time of filming. The nudity is never full-frontal (although exquisitely full dorsal display occurs) and some of the sex takes place (simulated, of course, in the film) with the characters rather fully clad. Good taste, in at least that regard, prevails over the potential for shock value.
The motion picture is worth seeing if the viewer has patience enough to wait for some somnolence-inducing scenes to pass by before more interesting ones come along as the film eventually proceeds onwards to them.