Directed by Catherine Breillat, starring Anne Parillaud, Grégoire Colin, Roxane Mesquida, Ashley Wanninger and Dominique Colladant.
The making of a film within a film, 'Sex is Comedy' is essentially a self-portrait by controversial French director Catherine Breillat.
Her alter ego, Jeanne (played by Anne Parillaud), is a director having problems with her leading actor (Colin) and actress (Mesquida) in the run-up to a graphic and emotional sex scene. It is a subject with which Breillat is intimately acquainted, her last two films being 'À Ma Soeur!' and 'Romance', and the movie being shot bears a close resemblance to 'À Ma Soeur!', complete with its star - Roxane Mesquida - as the young actress.
The despotic Jeanne is determined to get the most realistic performances from her charges despite the problems that she has on set, including the fact that they detest each other. The difficult leading man prefers to charm the crew rather than act, then petulantly refuses to take his socks off in the love scene. Her actress is sullen and moody, trying to avoid being nude on camera. Jeanne has to deal with their hang-ups, manipulating, flirting with and coaxing them along while dealing with her own self-doubt.
Sex there may be but there's precious little comedy unless you - like the slightly hysterical film crew - find the sight of an actor wandering about waggling his prosthetic penis funny. There is plenty of typical French wordiness and self-analysis, however, shot through with occasional insights into Breillat's working methods.
With 'Sex is Comedy' Breillat has precisely captured the stop-start life of a film set - lots of talk and waiting around, all to capture just one moment of pure brilliance - but seeing the process is rarely as interesting as the final result. Fans of Breillat's work will find much to admire here, for others there's little worth viewing.