Metamorphoses

106 minutes 2014

The films of French writer-director Christophe Honoré tend to fall into one of two categories: sexually explicit provocations (Ma Mère, Man at Bath) and frothy romantic roundelays (Love Songs, Beloved). This modern-dress adaptation of about a dozen stories from Ovid's Metamorphoses splits the difference—it's full of nudity and sex, yet the view of uninhibited pansexuality is cheery and innocent. The movie (2014) sometimes recalls Pier Paolo Pasolini's early-70s trilogy of antique literary adaptations (The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Arabian Nights); but whereas Pasolini used the classics to critique his times, Honoré doesn't seem to be saying anything, direct or indirect, about the current era. He does succeed, though, in conveying the joy of storytelling, which has made Ovid's work endure; the engagingly knotty structure is full of playful digressions and tales within tales. In French with subtitles.

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