Pussy (2016)

*. What’s sauce for the gander is good for the goose. Or something like that. I have to switch the old saw around because a gander is a male goose, and the point of Renata Gasiorowska’s short film Pussy is that female sexuality operates in much the same way as that of the male.
*. Take the old expression that the penis (or cock, or dick) has a mind of its own. Well, here the protagonist’s vulva literally does its own thing as its owner suffers one too many interruptions in getting herself off.
*. Or take another stand-by that has the penis personified as a little man (sometimes one-eyed, sometimes wearing a helmet). In Pussy the pussy is a little . . . well, if not a little man in a boat, or even a man, then at least something. Maybe a giant, snarling vagina dentata. Maybe a cuddly little plush toy.
*. So hats, and pants, off to a bit of self-love. But this is a movie, so does self-love ever mean being alone? I’ve said before (see my notes on Mr. Adam Bitt at Convent and Night Trips) that porn isn’t about sex but about watching. So note here how we begin with a voyeur in an apartment across the street spying on the protagonist as she’s soaking in a tub. And how in the next scenario she gets ready to rub one out while sitting spread-legged before a mirror. She needs an audience.
*. The final stage in this process is that splintering of identity I’ve already talked about, as her pussy takes off and just does its own thing, looking to find its pleasures wherever it can. It’s a cute way of representing masturbation as part narcissism and part dissociation.
*. So much for intepretation and paraphrase. The execution? It’s nothing special. The plain line drawings, mostly using just a two-colour (red and blue) marker, are perhaps deliberately crude. The only thing I found disconcerting was the protagonist’s piggy, Dennis the Menace-style nose. Was that meant to be unattractive?
*. One thing the plain, primitive sketchiness of the drawing of the animation does is set up the orgasmic bliss of colour and loss of line at the end. Shades of the psychedelic money shots of Behind the Green Door, though without that jetting, directional quality. Instead the visuals have more of a lab-slide and sex-ed film feel to them, expressionistic renderings of combustible internal processes.
*. Is it all an ode to joy? I’m just a bit hesitant. The disembodied pussy is disconcerting, like something out of Gogol perhaps. And while there’s no harm in self-love, the proceedings here have the air not just of a quest but of a solipsistic nightmare. The big O is nice, but there’s also something grotesque going on here. She’s both going it alone and coming apart.

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