The confrontational films of French director Catherine Breillat usually take on sexual politics the old-fashioned way: Her movies are strong, they roar, and they’re not funny. Then there’s Sex Is Comedy, which, while not exactly written by Tina Fey, shows a beguiling aptitude for self-mockery in the pursuit of polemic. The movie is a fictionalized re-creation of Breillat’s experience making one of her best films, 2001’s Fat Girl — and, in particular, staging a graphic and harrowing sex scene between a 15-year-old girl and her slightly older seducer.
The filmmaker is wise to her own outrageous demands and blandishments, which she ascribes to Jeanne, a fictional director played with flirtatious intensity by Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita). And Breillat has fun training her camera on an impressive prosthetic penis worn by popular French actor Grégoire Colin as the fictional costar. Then the real Breillat gets out of the way of her real Fat Girl star, Roxane Mesquida, as the young woman plays herself with stunning naturalism.