MILF On Netflix Review: A French Film With A Finishing Problem, Film Companion
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Director: Axelle Laffont
Writer: Jérôme L’hotsky, Stéphane Kramer
Cast: Marie-Josée Croze, Virginie Ledoyen, Axelle Laffont
Streaming Platform: Netflix

There is a semantic difference between a MILF (Mother I’d Like to Fuck) and a Cougar; the latter is an older woman “on the prowl”, the former are mothers with incidental sexual appetites. The connotation of predatory instincts distinguish one from the other. Sonia (Marie-Josée Croze) and Elise (the director herself, Laffont) are very clear about this as they flirt and fry in hormones, shacking up with French boys (not men) who teach paddling to kids in the sea-side town they find themselves in. Sonia and Elise are here to help their friend Cecile (Virginie Ledoyen with a haze of Natalie Portman) pack up her house that she lived in with her ex, into cardboard boxes, and make it sale-ready. 

Cecile is the most reserved, solving puzzles as her girl-friends buy some boys drinks at the club (they pre-gamed, knowing the alcohol here will be expensive… youths). There is also a pelican that is stuck in the room, and the three of them are unable to make it escape. It doesn’t take more than a few scenes to realize the pelican with the erectile beak is a metaphor for Cecile’s hoo-ha, one that will be liberated only when the other is too. (Or perhaps a metaphor for Cecile, her liberation tied to her libido, which might be a bit of a dated thought.) Cecile is the kind of woman who gets a brazilian wax without expecting action. (When she mopes, her friend snaps, “She can’t be a victim and wax her pussy.”) Where the film is refreshing is that it doesn’t want to make this a “moment” where their lives change. It’s a summer fling that will fade, like a palimpsest, with the incoming affairs. So the profundity is not felt, because it isn’t there. When the film ends, there’s no affection or sympathy. It’s also not a nuanced, slow-burn take on sexuality, as you might have guessed from the all-caps title. When the girls first see the boys, a pop-art dialogue box with “MILF” gets pasted onto the screen with a siren sound. 

Milf

But a lot of the humour also doesn’t translate well into the subtitles. There is a scene where the boys make racist accents and they are called out for a second before descending into dinner conversation around flirtatious gazes and forthright arm-around-shoulders. The accent never registers to someone unfamiliar with the context. 

The film otherwise is a harmless, inert take on post-40-adult sexuality. Sonia is trying to get over a man who sends her a voice note  (inadvertently, perhaps) asking a woman to “chupa” him. The boy she distracts herself with is quite serious about his affections; he accidentally spills his seed into his pants when she’s sitting on his lap on a cramped car ride. This could have been a cheap moment, but there’s this despair, almost disgust on the boy’s face; his inability and guilt about not being a ‘man’- more controlled, and consummate- shows. Elise, the more forthright one, finds herself the most forthright boy, who flexes and bites his paper thin lips, and helicopters his sock-covered privates to endear her. Here is where the story gets interesting, Elise’s lust morphs into affection, while Sonia’s remains just that. Elise’s boy on the other hand is unable to reciprocate that affection, while Sonia’s has already had his affection morph into love and duty and forever-together-necklaces. It’s the kind of story where life is meant to give you exactly the opposite of what you desire. In either case, both women don’t seem to have excessively good sex with the boys. Their orgasms are received with muted smiles and fake joy. Elise is more direct about this telling her boy he watches too much porn. The boy doesn’t see an issue with it. 

There are these peripheral characters too that have little to no role. There’s an older, single man in town who is often seen running, and after a bad first impression, you assume the story will give him a love-story arc of redemption but he just descends and sputters out of the narrative. Ditto for the bouncer- a young girl with Krav Maga instincts who is besotted with Sonia’s boy. The 96 minute run-time isn’t enough perhaps. Between the titillations and tirades, there is a fun story to tell. When the men stare oddly at these women dancing with the boys, a friend of the women articulates that women have longer life expectancies, if they are to not find themselves living alone, they must find themselves younger men. Young-er, sure! But these boys barely outgrew their cradle.

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