"Catherine & Company" is a French Sex (Comedy?) film that stars Serg Gainsbourg's longtime muse, Jane Birkin, and her ass. Don't believe me? Look at the poster:
The plot concerns Catherine, a young drifter who is fresh off train and looking work in France when she meets a series of business men who are desperate for her "company." She spends the night with each of them, lying naked next to the men, but never having sex with any of them; opting instead to coax monotonous pillow-talk out of them while she quietly falls asleep.
This course of action, while annoying to Catherine, temporarily puts a roof over her head, but it doesn't really pay the bills, so to speak. When she finally thinks that she has found a place to stay where she doesn't have to worry about men groping her, she meets the owner, Francois, played by this guy.
He's all sorts of interested in Catherine, but the difference this time is that she welcomes the groping. Their sex scene is among the highlights of the film, showcasing a cavalcade of sexual positions, uncomfortably punctuated with their simultaneous getting-to-know-you small talk. When it's over, Francois lets it slip that he's engaged to be married, crushing Catherine's spirits.
(This is the best picture I can find of Jane Birkin looking like her spirits are crushed)
After an unpleasant second meeting with Francois and his flock of females, Catherine eventually goes back to stay with one of the many business men in her life, but this time, (perhaps out of sadness) she has sex with him. She is shocked the next morning to find out that in return for her wiliness to please, the business man offers her 500 francs. Suddenly she has money in her hands and, thanks to her business man's pillow-talk, a better understanding of what it takes to run a business.
She then sets out to start her own business, selling her sexual services and free time to "investors." As her profits grow, so too does her stable of investors. At the height of her powers, Catherine attends a party with her men, all of which are having a great time with her. The awkwardness ensues when Francois shows up at the party, and must now feel the rejection Catherine felt.
Throughout the years that I've been attending Weird Wednesday, I have seen a lot of Sexploitation, and I have found that there are few things must occur for me to enjoy a film. For starters, a lack of repetition definitely helps, sex scene after sex scene tends to get boring quick. "Catherine & Co." manages to not only be sexy, but to also tell a story with an interesting character dynamic.
Secondly, my enjoyment of these films usually depends a lot on how attractive I find the lead actress (or all the actresses if it's an ensemble). In this case, Jane Birkin has an exotic and strange beauty that's pretty damn attractive. She's built like a Volkswagen, which is to say that her engine is in her trunk, but it really works for her.
Overall, "Catherine & Co." was an above average Weird Wednesday with some very enjoyable parts. Some of the highlights included:
--Catherine having sex with one of her investors in the balcony of a theater while "The Ride of the Valkyries" plays in the background.
--Catherine's first encounter with a business man whose idea of small talk and reassurance is to randomly say "come on, it's not like I'm going to rape you."
--Catherine's suggestive posing for a portrait, that unknown to her, is of her as a centaur.
--Her amazingly short-white-party-dress-with-bubbles/balls on it.
--The ultra-intense slap-happy confrontation between Francois & Catherine at the party.
--Also, the film had a really strong score.
"Catherine & Co." screened on 8/27/08 at the Alamo Ritz and was presented by Weird Wednesday.