Le Sex Shop (1972)

 “The vice squad took my appetite away.”

In Le Sex Shop, Lucien’s small bookshop is failing. He can’t make ends meet and is facing bankruptcy. An acquaintance suggests that Lucien (Jean-Pierre Marielle) should convert the bookshop to an adult erotic paraphernalia shop. Soon business is booming. Lucien spends his days constantly barraged by gadgets and ‘adult toys’, and he begins to wonder if his marriage is stale. He starts trying to ‘spice’ things up–much to wife, Isabelle’s, dismay. Isabelle (Juliet Berto)becomes the guinea pig as Lucien tries one thing after another. Throw into this domestic scene–a kinky swinging, voyeuristic dentist, two disgruntled prostitutes, a naked book signing, and a cruise ship full of swingers, and the outcome is a very funny film.

A great deal of this film’s humour is based in the attitudes of the characters towards erotic matters. Lucien’s inept attempts to become a swinger are hilarious–Isabelle, chooses to not get upset about his demands, and her calm acceptance in the face of Lucien’s insistence that they’re ‘missing out’ underscores his discontent. Other amusing scenes include a practical analysis of some black leather bondage wear, and his & hers erotic reading. I particular loved the character of Karin, the shop assistant who looks like a schoolgirl with the face of a soiled angel. The film also has its serious moments, and those moments really contribute to this film’s substance.

On the down side–this very early Claude Berri (1972) film is dated. And horror of horrors, it’s dubbed. As the plot developed, I managed to ignore the dubbing for the most part, but it still detracted from my enjoyment overall.

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Filed under Claude Berri, Comedy, France

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