Isabelle Huppert puts in a powerhouse performance in THE SCHOOL OF FLESH, and remains the only redeeming quality to this French movie (with English subtitles). She portrays Dominique, an independent Paris business executive, who meets Quentin (Vincent Martinez) in a homosexual bar. A bartender and male prostitute, Quentin is considerably younger than Dominique and impoverished. A strong chemistry between them leads Dominique to pay for his services.
>From the outset, the audience is aware that there is very little common interest between Dominique and Quentin outside of their sexual relationship. Dominique becomes obsessed with learning any background information she can about Quentin since he reveals very little to her. Quentin makes it very clear from the beginning that he needs his space, but still Dominique is grieved when Quentin spends the night out. She has Quentin come live with her in her contemporary apartment and pays off all his debts. She is willing to tolerate anything to hold on to this superficial relationship. At one point in the movie, Quentin asks Dominique why she left her husband (her childhood friend) to which she responds that she was bored. There aren’t any semi-healthy relationships in this movie at all, even for contrast.
It remains unclear what message THE SCHOOL OF FLESH is trying to convey. The relationship depicted between Dominique and Quentin is empty and meaningless, consumed only by physical passion. The disappointing element in this movie is that no redeeming values or morals are evident even at the end of the movie. The performances are all convincing all the way around, especially Isabelle Huppert who expresses great longing and sadness with her eyes. Known for her work in THE LACEMAKER and MADAME BOVARY, there is no point to her pain, making for a nihilistic waste of time.
Pagan worldview of relationships based on physical attraction & sex; 5 obscenities; no violence; one scene of explicit fornication & several scenes implying other acts of fornication; male & female rear nudity; smoking; and, homosexual issues.