The Book Of Gabrielle **
Starring: Lisa Gornick, Allan Corduner, Anna Koval
Director: Lisa Gornick
Sex and sexuality is a difficult topic to pitch right. Show too much and run the risk of being deemed pornographic; show too little and appear prudish. With the exception of Shortbus, films tend to try and then fail to show a glorification of human sexuality, because something surrounded by so many taboos and personal idiosyncrasies is very difficult to capture on film. Unfortunately, The Book Of Gabrielle is yet another cinematic misfire about sex that stumbles and splutters through meaningless philosophical dialogue that is about as profound as the label on an Innocent smoothie.
Gabrielle (Gornick) is writing a book about sex. Thinking that the age-old “sex sells” adage still works, it’s an illustrated memoir that speaks of her personal experiences with sex. However, her publisher questions whether a hand-drawn sex-guide is really what the public now wants. Having met Saul (Corduner), a childhood idol who is a sex writer who feels he has run out of things to say, the two strike up a friendship. But as he find himself increasingly attracted to her, she continues to tell him of her sexual experiences with girlfriend Olivia (Koval) and those of her past.
The film is just as illustrated with the drawings of Gabrielle as the book is. Presciently, the film fulfils its own prophecy. While the drawings are clearly intended to be erotic, they carry about as much sexuality as a kitchen sponge. Clearly, these were intended to give artistic reality to Gabrielle’s sexuality, but as she keeps yammering on about sex you can’t help but wonder whether she has any hobbies or interests that don’t involve her vagina. Does the public need a hand-illustrated movie about sex? Quite simply, no.
The relationship that begins between Gabrielle and Saul is difficult to fathom. They are cast as sexual juggernauts, even though their sexualities are pointing in different directions. They talk, ruminate, philosophise, flirt. They talk about orgasms and decades of sexual experience. Saul comes across as neither charming nor sexy. Gabrielle comes across as neither alluring nor enthralling. They have about as much chemistry as two Skodas passing on a motorway. And with a narrative that pretty much relies on us buying into their meeting of minds, this is a real problem.
The mysticism attributed to sex here is absurd. There is a smug insistence on casting sex as something poetic. Sex cannot be just sex, it has to be something more; something higher. But for a film all about artistry (both written and visual), there is a striking lack of artistry to the film. Ordinary, mundane and boringly realistic, there is no wonder to be had here. No wonder to the sex. No wonder to the characters. So we just end up following around an annoyingly self-content woman who wants to over-share with anyone who will listen just how much she enjoys having an orgasm. Which is great, for her. Not so much for us.
The Book Of Gabrielle is a film that seems wholly disconnected with what people actually want to see. Without narrative, characters or visuals that are worth exploring, it’s pretty much a waste of everyone’s time. It’s about as fun as an 80 minute conversation with a Broadband provider.
UK RELEASE: MONDAY 12TH FEBRUARY