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5.9
/10
1,025 Ratings

Anatomy of Hell

Anatomie de l'enfer

Directed by Catherine Breillat
France, Portugal, 2004
Drama, Avant-Garde, LGBT+
  • French, German
  • English, German

Synopsis

Adapted from Breillat’s novel “Pornocracy”, Anatomy of Hell follows a woman (Amira Casar) who meets a man (Rocco Siffredi) in a gay disco and hires him for four consecutive nights, asking him to “watch me where I am unwatchable.”

Our take

Alert: Not for the faint-of-heart! Breillat approaches sex in ways no other (male) filmmaker has ever done. Her unwavering exploration of femininity peaks in this loose sequel to Romance where she fearlessly blurs the line between porn and art—and casting porn legend Siffredi is just the beginning.

Anatomy of Hell Directed by Catherine Breillat
The minimal décor (and its crucifixes, its harsh lights), the Melvillian color palette, the way Casar lies on her bed like an Edward Hopper subject: the film is less painterly than painted, with a dankness showing through the white matte of the domestic interior—a visual reminder, like the striped and textured background of a Francis Bacon canvas, of something fundamentally grim.
January 26, 2017
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The surprise is that Siffredi’s character is ultimately more vulnerable than the woman, because while she knows exactly what to expect from him, he’s susceptible to her in ways he never could have predicted. Siffredi’s performance is lovely, partly because of the languid expressiveness of his slightly droopy eyes. He’s such a securely masculine presence that he doesn’t need any phony macho affectations.
October 16, 2004
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The most original and perhaps the most disturbing thing about Breillat’s poetic treatise on gynephobia is its unique juxtaposition of the cerebral and the visceral. This is a most radical exercise in erotic body horror—and, pace David Cronenberg, it may be the mode’s ultimate example.
October 13, 2004
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What are people saying?

  • T. J. Harman's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    I concur with the commenter below that this film goes beyond any star rating but I'm giving a 5 for the experience. I don't know what to say. Feminist philosophy set against pornographic iconography-though it's not porno. Put it this way: if Bergman shot a sex movie written by Kate Millett & Margurite Duras, it might be something like this but that still doesn't fit. This is a Breillat film & one of her most realized

  • Lars Ole Kristiansen's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    WTF??! Cold as ice, hot as blood, essayistic, profound, stupid, vulgar and beautiful. Possibly a masterpiece, possibly a piece of shit. Beyond any star rating, but therefore a truly unforgettable experience. Catherine Breillat is a true artist, and without doubt the most relentlessly interesting contemporary french filmmaker.

  • El Biffo's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    At first, I thought "Wow, this is great". I love sexuality in Cinema and I love Breillat, too. As it went on I started to feel that all of the philosophizing about sex & gender roles was rather sophomoric, and the intended transgressiveness wasn't so edgy as it pretended to be, not to my jaded sensibility. The analysis of Tampax as a representation of patriarchy is a bit over-the-top. But I'm glad she made this film.

  • Eric Rucker's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    I’m unsure what that was, even what my emotional experience was in watching. Initial imagistic thoughts are that it’s a subtle, complex answer, and challenge, to a long list of things. Like Noé’s Irreversible, Duchamp’s Étant donnés, Dracula... It is interesting and unusual for films to lose us at sea. Thank you, MUBI.

  • Wee Hunk's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    And then she said, I really appreciate what you're trying to do there, but I don't think this is going to work. You have to admire his efforts. This film couldn't be made in America. It would immediately get an X rating and not be shown. Even the porn industry wouldn't like it. Too much talking.

  • dionysus67's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    Could have been an astonishing film, but although in cinematic terms Arvanitis' camera provides ample pleasures, the directness with which Breillat treats the purity/pollution (danger) binary code of sexual morals proves damaging to the film's impact. Impressive are the childhood reminiscence scenes and the theological underpinnings (Bataille) are evident beyond the obvious symbols. Porn subverted, not sublated.

  • Renton47's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    The last film to make me this weak-kneed and queasy was de Van's 'In My Skin', to an extent another film about women's bodies as the receptacle for lust and hate. Here Breillat removes the lust to focus on her suggested "hell", a claim warranted by seeing this in a cinema with plenty of walk-outs. The criticism is in-built, and I'm happy to cop to discomfort in return for the vile shit we (men) put on the screen.

  • HKFanatic's rating of the film Anatomy of Hell

    A well-photographed film, with two leads who give fearless performances and certainly look attractive together. That said, "Anatomy of Hell" delivers exactly what people think of when they imagine a 'pretentious French movie': detached, sullen characters in barely furnished rooms, discussing sex in such a clinical way that love and life itself are robbed of any passion. I can't say I enjoyed the experience.

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