In 2005, writer-director Jean-Claude Brisseau was charged with sexual assault after four actresses stated that they were coerced into participating in “erotic auditions” — masturbating in front of Brisseau, singly and in groups, in hotels and restaurants, filmed and unfilmed — for his 2002 film Secret Things. His follow-up, Exterminating Angels, concerns a writer-director (Frédéric van den Driessche) preparing a film much like Secret Things, and holding identical “erotic” auditions. Some actresses are too prudish to participate; some thank the Brisseau stand-in for introducing them to a bold new sensuous world, and beg him to join them. He is warned: all actresses are whores for the roles they want; one actress confesses, after her audition, that she’s just had her first orgasm, then says she feels she was taken advantage of when she finds she hasn’t been cast. Through it all, a black-clad woman — a fallen angel — contrives to bring about his downfall. In scenes as stilted as in any porno, he is spat upon, abandoned, and arrested, all for his naïve fascination with female pleasure and assault on taboo. Exterminating Angels may boast upwards of 30 minutes of twat-diddling, but it’s pretty clear who’s really doing the masturbating.
Opens March 7 at IFC Center