Written by: George Pacheco on October 7th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: France, August 31st, 2014
Director: Jean-Francois Davy
Writer: Jean-Francois Davy
Cast: Jean Francois-Davy, Kitty Kat
DVD released: October 6th, 2015
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 French
DVD Release: Artsploitation Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
The world of adult cinema has had many an instance where the director or film in question possessed varying degrees of artistic intention, ability or execution. This is not one of those films.
Chasing the Muse is a sorry excuse for a documentary, helmed by French adult and sexploitation director Jean-Francois Davy, who was responsible for a number of wacky, often humorous sex farces back in the 1970s, including the memorable Line Up and Lay Down, a.k.a. The World’s Best Whorehouse for Women. Davy’s work at this time was generally quite indicative of the artistic and stylish sort of erotica emanating from France at this time, often utilizing beautiful locations, funky music and solid cinematography…not to mention the hip hair and clothing styles of the day.
Fast forwarding to 2014, however, and we see a man whose sensibilities are still very much stuck in the past, as Chasing the Muse, a.k.a. Transgression, follows Davy as he fornicates his way across the Eastern Bloc of Europe, “casting for his new film.” Davy’s dirty old man routine gets old real quick, with each subsequent sexual encounter coming across as more desperate and sleazy than the last. The film and its approach is more than a bit sexist, to boot, as we the audience are spared Davy’s manhood, yet are subjected to a numbing array of sad, exploited women fully nude and exposed as they screw around-whether voluntarily or as a transaction-with this flabby, pretentious and wretched excuse for a man.
Yours truly certainly isn’t a prude, having reviewed numerous pieces of adult cinema for this site, but Chasing the Muse is just a bad, bad film. It’s ugly, mean and not sexual in the slightest. If the purpose of this kind of pornography is to titillate, it’s doing a poor job. If the purpose of this film is to be entertaining, it’s failing in that, as well. Finally, if this film is trying to be “artistic,” “important” or “personal,” then it’s strike three for Chasing the Muse, because Davy’s technique and approach just screams “cheap.” The digital photography is voyeuristic in the worst possible way, while the optical effects are the sort one might find in a bargain bin, multi-hour porn compilation.
Basically, this film was an excuse to shoot Jean-Francois Davy fucking around Eastern Europe for a while, taking advantage of his former, brief status as a mildly talented filmmaker. This would be fine, if the women being shot just didn’t come across as victims all the time-after all, plenty of adult one day wonders did and continue to make use of this framing device-with the audience watching as Davy’s friend films it all, sometimes in his fucking underwear, for Pete’s sake. It makes for one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences this writer can recall from distant memory, and a release for which even the most ardent Artsploitation fan should avoid.
Artsploitation presents Chasing the Muse in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which preserves the film’s original framing. The digital picture is sharp, perhaps a little too sharp, as skin tones tend to look very plastic and unnatural overall. There are no instances of DNR or compression to report, however, with the picture on the whole being quite watchable. Audio quality is similarly strong, with well translated English subtitles for the film’s French dialogue.
The only extra here aside from the film’s trailer is a bonus picture, Jean-Francois Davy’s 1975 documentary Exhibition, here presented full and uncut from the director’s own collection. It’s a far more interesting piece than Chasing the Muse, and follows the personal life and career of French porn star Claudine Beccarie, who had a strong career early on during France’s adult cinema boom before transitioning a little bit into softcore and exploitation fare, including the Nazi exploitation flick, Hitler’s Last Train.
Davy’s documentary work here is far less personally intrusive, despite spending many private moments with Beccarie, both on adult film sets and even at home with her parents. Davy gets to the bottom of some very revealing aspects of Beccarie’s desire to be a proper actress with a loose and natural interviewing style. It’s night and day from the sleaziness of Chasing the Muse, if anything painting a very low key and humble view of the French porn industry. Beccarie herself comes across as very down to earth, if a bit a tragic, as she expresses her desire to someday quit doing adult work, even as Davy inserts XXX scenes from some of her then-current work.
The 1.66:1 picture looks better than Muse, as well, with flesh tones nicely rendered from a proper 35mm print, while the French subtitles here are of an equally error-free quality, making Exhibition the only saving grace on what is otherwise a frustrating, ugly release from Artsploitation.