Eugénie Bouquet | Pas amoureux
«I think we should lose this shame of sex between two people who are not in love.»
Text: Morgane Frund
Eugénie Bouquet’s graduation film Pas amoureux at the Hochschule Luzern, Design & Kunst (HSLU) is an animated documentary about a sexual assistant. Initially Eugénie Bouquet wanted to interview a friend of theirs, who was preparing to enter a course as a sexual assistant, but because of the pandemic the training was cancelled. Bouquet’s friend recommended they contact Judith, a sex worker and a spokesperson for the rights of sex workers.
Pas amoureux is an animated documentary, which gives it freedom in its visual language. The animation can recreate missing footage, which was useful in depicting Judith’s anecdote with her first client, but this form of documentary also means that the filmmaker must decide how things will look. «I had long arguments with myself as to how I should represent sex in the film», says Bouquet. Pas amoureux doesn’t shy away from its topic but it does also maintain a certain distance from it. «I realized I probably lacked the experience to tactfully represent sex between my protagonist and a complete stranger, so in the end I chose to go in a more abstract direction, playing with broad shapes and music to evoke the sensations of the experience rather than depicting it directly.»
The aesthetic of the film was primarily designed to support the protagonist’s voice. The style of the animation evokes collage and plays with textures. Fabric, ink, paint, and paper lend a sense of physicality to the film. «I wanted the viewer to feel that someone had been there to touch the paper, like Judith touched her patient’s skin.» The sound is very attentive as well to the discourse: «The simplicity of the design, the discreet role of the music… I wanted the viewer to listen to her and forget about me.»
- And it’s the social status!
- People have a better opinion of sexual assistance than of prostitution?
- Of course!
Pas amoureux is very honest about its process. In a humble and transparent manner, the interview is used as a framing device. Eugénie Bouquet depicts themselves recording Judith and you can hear the filmmaker’s questions, which makes the storytelling appear simple but also offers structure and clarity to the discourse. We know who is talking and from which perspective.
Originally, the filmmaker would have preferred to be absent. It’s a compromise they ended up making due to the subject material: «My favorite moments of my interview with her, the moments I wanted to select, were almost always moments where she was responding in a way that wouldn’t have made sense if I hadn’t included the question I was asking. So instead of discarding those answers, I turned my presence into a framing device.» Even if it wasn’t planned that way Pas amoureux takes the clever decision to trust its material and to adapt to its needs.
The device of the interview also emphasizes the notion of listening, making it one of the core strengths of the film. By showing themselves listening to the protagonist, the filmmaker also puts us in the position of a listener. Pas amoureux creates a space for the protagonist voice, where we listen, and we trust the experience of Judith without judging it.
Eugénie Bouquet | 2022 BA in 2D animation from HSLU - Hochschule Luzern, Design & Kunst
Pas amoureux | CH 2022 | 4’
First published: July 26, 2023