Monday, November 29, 2010

The Film Formerly Known as Brilliantlove: O Diaries

Is “erotic fine art” a contradiction in terms? The meteoric rise of Manchester, an ambitionless slacker with a knack for snapping dirty Polaroids, might make one suspect as much. Art or not, his notoriety as a photographer takes a toll on his relationship in Ashley Horner’s The Orgasm Diaries (trailer here), known as Brilliantlove at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which is now available on IFC Demand and screens unheralded at the IFC Center this Monday through Thursday, only in the afternoons.

Manchester and his amateur taxidermist girlfriend Noon live like innocent primitives in their country squat. They spend most of their time writhing together naked, which Manchester randomly documents with his pictures. When he absent-mindedly leaves the latest batch at the pub, he ought to be in serious trouble back home. Instead, he is discovered by Franny, a serious, moneyed collector of dirty pictures.

Before you can say “naked Cinderella,” Franny is making plans to launch Manchester in an ostensibly respectable gallery. However, the time the aimless young couple spends with Franny and his wife Leah, a former porn star turned women’s studies professor (naturally enough), fundamentally alters their relationship dynamic.

O Diaries might not be any great shakes, but there have been worse films foisted on the art-house circuit. Frankly, its premise has satiric promise, but instead of putting the screws to the pretentious gallery world, Horner focuses on his frequently naked cast instead. At least Nancy Trotter Landry is clearly in great shape. On the other hand, the constant sight of Liam Browne in various states of undress as the pale, greasy Manchester is what it is. While not exactly an acting showcase, Michael Hodgson best distinguishes himself as the strangely stable and professional Franny.

Essentially harmless, O Diaries might have pretensions of sociological significance, but it is really just interested in the naughty bits. Still, Horner keeps it moving along relatively smoothly and can hardly be accused of a teasing bait-and-switch. Those who would go for the film know exactly who you are. It plays late afternoons this Monday through Thursday (11/29-12/2) in New York at the IFC Center and is also available through IFC’s pay-per-view arm.