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‘Blow’: A HotMovies Review (Featured Video)

The play No Exit famously posited that “hell is other people.” Blow, the new featured vid from Dorcel, says it’s all just a question of perspective. The movie’s group of amorous friends, who assemble for a lively weekend together, could drive themselves to madness and jealousy at their various affairs, infatuations, and entanglements. That’s certainly the endgame of the characters in No Exit, who accept their fate by dryly saying “Shall we continue?” when it becomes evident they will never stop torturing each other. Blow‘s lovers realize there is a delightful pleasure to be found when they embrace the marvelous melee that is the human experience.

Appropriately, the movie opens with long intercut exterior shot that slowly, inexorably pushes in on a window. It’s as if the director is telling us that this voyeuristic slice of life could be happening right around the corner, if only we could pull back the curtain. We see Mariska, Shalina Devine, and James Duval enjoying a passionate threesome in advance of the arrival of various friends the next day. Brazenly, it plays out right up against the window, as if none of this trio is worried in the slightest about being glimpsed. The lighting choices here are bold, too, favoring a shadowy construction that risks obscuring some of the more intimate details in less capable directorial hands. Director Herve Bodilis also skillfully handles the closeups, which enhance the eroticism without becoming too forensic in their detail.

As dawn breaks, James (a social media fitness guru) and Shalina prep for the arrival of two sets of couple friends (Ricky Mancini and Carollina Cherry, Kristof Cale and Tiffany Leiddi). Some banter over the phone establishes the jokey, sometimes passive-aggressive dynamic of the group. We quickly become aware that the sexual desires of the group overlap and intermingle in surprising, sometimes scandalous ways.

Mariska is a therapist whose keen observations give the movie some of its psychological heft. The fit, muscular Duval creates an interesting contrast with Mancini, an older, more jaded character who, while just as handsome, is more inclined to indulge in life’s hedonistic pleasures. (He even needles James about the weekend’s menu, which he hopes will have “real” food like bread and cheese.) It’s as if the pair represent two eras of Dorcel, side by side, in a battle for supremacy. Happily, the movie decides this pleasurable world has room enough for both of them.

Without divulging too much about the plot, the movie allows us to eavesdrop on almost every imaginable sexual pairing of this roster of Dorcel stars. The sex is so omnipresent, there’s even a moment when a threesome is playing out next to a pool while two characters watch from above, coolly discussing the nature of relationships. There’s no spoiler in saying that the movie climaxes with a double-couple sex scene in the classic Dorcel mold. It’s occasionally exhausting to keep track of who is who, who is cheating on whom, and what their attitude toward it is, but that seems to be the point. Sexual feelings can be confusing, particularly when they’re pitched in contrast to more refined feelings of emotional attachment.

Baskin’s bottom line

When Dorcel rebranded in 2022, I wondered if the label might move too far afield from its finely wrought European aesthetic. In the face of the realities of the current market, would they be content to become another Vixen clone? Thankfully, movies like Blow prove that Dorcel still has plenty of puff left in every draw from its Gauloise cigarette. The presence of James Duval’s influencer certainly shows the shadow of Vixen’s “lifestyle brand” storylines, but the neurotic, erotic musings of the characters here are nothing but pure, delightful Dorcel. Hell may be other people, but porno heaven is still Dorcel, even after over 40 years.

On a more general note, I would love to see subtitled versions of Dorcel movies. Dorcel’s famous dubbing creates a mood all its own, to be sure, but I think a soundtrack with the original language, enhanced by captions for the monolingual among us, would allow a further connection to the actors and their characters. As any Parisian cinemagoer will tell you, there’s just something about “version originale.”

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