Following a string of semi-controversial, nearly sexually explicit films (Fat Girl, Romance and, most recently, Anatomy of Hell), French writer-director Catherine Breillat takes a bit of a different turn with Sex is Comedy, which examines a director’s passionate obsession for making a film of her own.

Sex opens on a cold and nearly rainy day on a beach in France, where director Jeanne (Anne Parillaud) is trying to fashion a believable kissing scene between her lead actor (Gregoire Colin) and lead actress (Roxane Mesquida). She’s frustrated with the way things are turning out, primarily because she thinks her actor is an unemotional idiot.

This scene sets the tone for the remainder of the film, throughout which Jeanne tries desperately to set up a believable, ultimately passionate love scene between her two stars. The actor doesn’t like the actress, the actress doesn’t want to kiss the actor, and the director finds herself with a broken foot after, as she says, she "puts her foot down" for the making of her beloved film.

While the premise of Sex – which ultimately deals with the craziness involved in the making (not directing, as Breillat said in an interview) of a piece of cinematic art – is commendable and understandable, there is a lot left to be desired from Breillat’s newest project. There are conversations that seemingly never lead to anything, relationships that come out of nowhere but never develop, and characters who really have no reason to like or, for that matter, dislike each other. Perhaps these elements are left out because the whole purpose of the film is to examine what happens behind a set’s "closed doors," but ultimately, Breillat leaves too much emotional weight to the viewer’s imagination.

In the end, Sex is Comedy is not so much an intricate study of directing an intimate scene, but rather a closed-off piece of avant-garde cinema.

Grade: C+