Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Anatomy of Hell 2003

Anatomie de l'enfer

Directed by Catherine Breillat

France In French with English subtitles
77 minutes 35mm


Catherine Breillat. Based on her novel Pornocratie


Yorgos Arvanitis
Guillaume Schiffman
Miguel Malheiros
Susana Gomes


Pascale Chavance
Frédéric Barbe


Amira Casar
Rocco Siffredi


Anatomy of Hell is the bluntest exploration yet of male-female relations from French art-porn provocateuse Catherine Breillat. The set-up is concept-driven: a beautiful straight woman, neglected in a gay nightclub, meets a handsome gay man (porn star Rocco Siffredi). A deal is struck: she will pay him to explore his revulsion at the female body. He will visit her isolated seaside house and examine her in the most intimate ways Breillat can devise. Breillat’s seriousness about the dynamics of misogyny in this, to her, crypto-heterosexual relationship is as imposing as her determination to flaunt the forbidden. While the couple’s intimacies are rendered in flashes of hard-core explicitness, she frames and lights her pornographic images in a rich, painterly style, creating iconic images from their increasingly bizarre encounters. Her study of female desire, and the masculine fear of this force, is confrontational, militantly anti-social and perversely beautiful.