Bijou: A Film Review
When I chose “Bijou” (directed by Wakefield Poole) to review for PinkLabel.TV’s #PornClub, I chose it because I wanted to watch something that I normally wouldn’t choose on my own. I’m cisgender and heterosexual, but I’d probably let *that* one guy suck my dick. *ba dum dun ttsshh* So, I chose to watch some masculine porn. I’m glad that I chose Bijou.
Bijou (1972) feels like a place I’ve visited in past time fantasies. When I first started going to underground clubs in the late 90s, I remember similar vibes. Some spaces were loud when it felt like they shouldn’t have been, disorienting (due to their mix of neon, dark spaces, and mirrors), and salacious at every moment. Those are the same things I’d say to describe Bijou.
As the story begins, the music feels sorely out of place. I even suspected that I’d left Gustav Mahler playing in another program. Imagine a big, jarring score cascading out of your speakers as the characters on the screen move calmly through their day, setting the scene for an elegant experience. Generally, I try to avoid going into a new viewing with any expectations. However, I can still be surprised with happenings that I didn’t expect. Early on in the film, the main character steals something and that makes it hard to like him as a person. (It’s not the stealing per se, it’s who from and how that left a bad taste on it.) At any rate, it was a challenge for me to celebrate his pleasure in the beginning. Eventually, I got over it because the casual speakeasy sexual encounter that evolved into a hot group scene was absolute poetry.
Once the audience discovers what Bijou is, it’s hard to look away. Once Bill Harrison’s character enters Bijou, it’s easy to feel like you’re on a trip. Once inside, I watched a room full of yes. I watched a room balanced with exploration, desire, and natural intoxication. There was no drug/alcohol use in the flick, but everyone in Bijou seemed intoxicated with primal arousal. (I also loved the juxtaposition of the laissez-faire gatekeeper.) It’s always a pleasure to see actors enjoying their fucking work. I was into the entire “dark room” scene.
This isn’t a scripted, man meets man, sort of lust story. Instead, this adventure is like a surreal experience for the main character. The imagery on which he focuses during his (early) masturbation scene, ultimately, leaves him unsatisfied. (Note to self, try jacking off to Led Zeppelin in the future. It worked musically well in Bijou.) It’s easy to see that he’s searching for some unnamed experience. A friend once spoke about what constitutes a story. A character goes through some significant change and there you have your story. Bill Harrison’s character experiences change once his fantasy is fulfilled. The first time we see him smile, we know that the jewel that is Bijou was exactly what he needed in that moment to bring him joy that rounds out his story.
Would I recommend it? Fuck yes! Why? Watch it for the pleasure. Watch it for the surreal fantasy. Watch it to watch people enjoying their fucking work. But, watch it. I’d especially recommend this one to any CisHet man who has never felt comfortable talking about their pleasure out loud. Arousal and pleasure can be plain to see no matter how you feel about the characters on the screen.