A voyeuristic, yet sensually suppressed painter commissioned by a Madam for her brothel. Two young friends discovering feelings for one another. Corrupt police officers and morally corrupt religious zealots. Arranged marriages. Appreciation for art. Gorgeous girls in period dresses… It’s almost like De Sade, Franco, Pasolini and Borowczyk are having a brain storm session wherever they winded up after death.
Fine. That’s taking it a little bit too far, but I can safely claim as a lover of erotic cinema – Maxim Ford’s Picture of Beauty had me in all of the right places. I should also claim that even though an explicit movie at times, this is not just a piece of exploitative and sordid ‘sinema’. This is a sincere, piece of erotic moviemaking that titillates in places, but has a message and makes the audience think. Takes place somewhere in pre-First World War Eastern Europe, Picture of Beauty dives into the sociopolitical landscape of the time. Religion rules over all and its loyal followers act out heinous punishments to those who run from the “righteous” path.
Franek (Hajnos) is a gifted art forger and painter who together with his loyal assistant Hazel (Bochan-Jachimek) – herself also a gifted artist – are ordered by a glamorous Madam (Sylwia Kaczmarek) to create a piece for her brothel to hopefully set up more business. Even though his subjects at the brothel are beautiful, Franek desires for more and calls upon his assistant to seek more models. Freshly expelled from university for her views, gorgeous and strong-willed political activist Stephanie (Rose) answers the call and takes an immediate liking to the shy painter. Her young friend Julia (Sands) would be a perfect model too, but she has recently been arrested for running away from the bonds of her cruel and much older husband (El Muafy). A man who just happens to be an influential police officer. The group literally (and metaphorically) free Julia meaning that Franek can hopefully complete what should be his masterpiece and hopefully find love for himself.
Admittedly, that was a much abridged synopsis. The plot itself is simple, but its themes and messages are on the opposite side. The domineering theme of Picture of Beauty is sexual repression and how to remedy it. There is real tenderness in the romantic elements of the story that go beyond pure lust. On another note, there is occasionally true tension and a real sense of oppression. Making use of open-minded performers and those within the adult film industry, the unsimulated sex scenes are honest and you can feel the chemistry. Those familiar with the ethical porn movement in Europe will be also very familiar to the work of said explicit sequences. Even the lesbianism is handled with care and tenderness in contrary to being there to shock or simply titillate in an exploitative manner. Those who are (often rightly so) critical of modern pornography should see movies like this because this is how you transfer sexually explicit material in to cinema. Actually, this isn’t a work of pornography at any aspect. This is a movie with a genuine story that just happens to contain sex. Of course, the likes of Von Trier and Haneke have combines those elements in to their work, but you won’t find any stunt c**k or extracts of uninspired porn videos here.
I’m brought back to the cinema of Pasolini, Franco, Rollin and for certain, the golden age pornography with this one. Not just because there’s actually story and intellectual elements, but because this is a beautifully realized film. Picture of Beauty movie is one of the most gorgeously filmed movies I have seen in a while; which comes as no surprise as Maxim Ford is well respected in the world of cinema for his beautiful camera work, particularly his use of time-lapse and high-speed cinematography. Both of which are used brilliantly from the beginning to the end, as well as scenes filmed with a Go-Pro style camera.
Another prime example of every frame being a painting… Speaking of paintings, lots of sequences incorporate art in some form. From a poster on a wall in a tavern, to Franek’s studio; you’ll find yourself marveling at the classic works, which include William Bouguereau’s fantastic Les Oréade. OK. It can be a little pretentious sometimes, but it all culminates in to a visually stunning movie. The décor, setting and outfits are all wonderfully executed (who wouldn’t enjoy the likes of Taylor Sands sensually taking off a flimsy white period era dress?). Aside from being visually stunning, I would also like to mention the film’s score courtesy of Maciej Kierzkowski. It’s beautiful and matches the film perfectly. The icing on the cake if you will.
There are moments when lines are delivered a little bit clumsily, but you have to take in to consideration that the film is English language and the performers are mainly European. Luckily, all of those engaged put in visually strong performances as there really isn’t too much line. The star of the show for me was Taylor Sands. Not only is she stunning, but her performance as the young and innocent Julia is very conceiving and you almost get a vibe of De Sade’s Justine. What will surprise some people (mainly those who are ignorant.) is that Sands is a popular adult performer. I opposed this notion that because someone is a performer in the adult industry, their acting must terrible. Have you not watched golden age adult cinema? I think that Sands has a great future in “legitimate” film. In fact, I would love to see more films like this in general.
Overall, Picture of Beauty full movie was really a great surprise. You don’t tend to see films like this too often. When sexually explicit material is used, it’s usually just for shock. Maxim Ford and everyone involved have crafted something truly special. It may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend you at least go over to the film’s website and find out more about the film and of course, watch the film for yourself.
To close, I thought I would share some words from the director himself that sum up Picture of Beauty film perfectly:
Picture of Beauty film is an erotic story to be sold in a very open and honest way in the style of such films as “Blue is the Warmest Colour” or “Romance”. We expect to work with a mixture of artists of different backgrounds, actors who are open minded and adult performers who have some experience in acting…
Watch Picture of Beauty full HD movie online here: http://freemv.online/watch/picture-of-beauty