Criminal Lovers

Ladymol's Review

Do you know that scene in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, where John Cleese asks ‘What have the Romans ever done for us’ and his comrades all pipe up with suggestions? Well, there’s a scene in this movie where the boy is in a police wagon screaming out about a man the police have on the ground, ‘Let him go? What has he done?’ and I heard in my head, in that Monty Python kind of voice, ‘Well, only kidnapping, rape and cannibalism.’ Not much, then. And I only relate that because it’s indicative of how detached I was from this movie. I can assure you, watching something like Burnt Money there are no funny voices in my head at all. Riveted. This one? Even with the gay rape, cannibalism, kidnap, murder and full frontal nudity, I kept thinking about going to make some tea.

The film is trying to be the French Natural Born Killers, but it doesn’t work on any level. The crime (murder of a school friend) is motiveless, violent and utterly passionless. You can’t connect to the characters so when they are taken prisoner by an odd woodsman whilst trying to bury the body, you don’t really care.

There is a nice twist in that he’s more interested in the boy than he is the girl, and for once, it’s the girl who languishes in the cellar while the boy is abused. The boy is forced to wash the man and then sleep with him. The man is wild, hairy and there’s no attempt to develop his character. The cannibalism seems utterly motiveless and only there for gratuitous shock interest.

The suggestion at the end of the movie that the boy has somehow been saved by this gay rape encounter (in that he’s come out and admitted his sexuality) didn’t work for me at all. But I am incredibly shallow and it probably would have worked if the woodsman hadn’t been so dreadfully hairy with the most unappealing socks I’ve ever seen on anyone. Oh, there I go again, silly voices….

Not worth seeing really despite having a gay twist.

Cerisaye's Review

Natural Born Killers turns into a kind of S&M Hansel & Gretel in this dark and disturbing psychosexual drama from France that also manages to be funny and disconcertingly arousing for something that includes murder, male rape and cannibalism.

Pretty Alice likes playing games with gorgeous but submissive boyfriend Luc.  When Alice says she wants to kill Algerian Said who gang raped her with friends, Luc is persuaded to do the deed in a blood-splattered scene of violence.  Alice taunts Luc because she knows what he really wants.  Luc is a virgin who can’t get hard, can’t come, so when he kills Said with a knife it’s like another penetration, with blood as sperm.

That’s the beginning, like a fall down a rabbit hole (Alice…geddit?).

The grim aftermath of the brutal murder is realistically shown: cleaning up the mess, buying a spade in the Hypermarché, disposing of the body in a forest where they get lost and meet a dangerous stranger who takes the pair captive.

As the story opens out with flashbacks gradually we find out what led up to the murder. 

I felt for the woodsman despite his way with rabbits and the kind of meals he likes to serve (this is not something you want to watch if you’re squeamish). At the same time sympathetic and malevolent, this ogre is a man who knows right from wrong and sets out to teach the lovers a lesson. The developing relationship between him & Luc is the best aspect of the film, surprisingly tender as the older man strips away Luc’s denial forcing him to acknowledge his true nature.  The woodsman’s feelings for Luc are more real than Alice’s, with her lies & manipulation.

The film has a preoccupation with pretty pastoral shots and cute animals like a Disney movie that seemed weird but thinking about it this juxtaposition is common in fairytales we regard as children’s stories though original versions often are closer to video nasties.

As a film about sexual awakening it doesn't quite work.  The sum is rather less than its parts but it kept my attention, and left me wondering what happened next, particularly to Luc.