With Exterminating Angels, writer/director Jean-Claude Brisseau uses an incident from his life – a case in which he was accused of sexually assaulting several young actresses by asking them to pleasure themselves during auditions for 2002’s Secret Things – and turns it into a complex, confessional examination of his twisted, thorny and ultimately ambiguous feelings toward women and sex. Interested in exploring the mysteriousness of female sensuality via cinema, fictional director François (Frédéric van den Driessche) convinces two actresses (and, later, a waitress) to prepare for his upcoming hardcore film by masturbating and copulating for the camera, and then to discuss their experiences (hence the titular reference to Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel). François remains aloof from these physical encounters, which is in tune with Brisseau’s refusal to provide us with insight into what’s driving his male and female characters to stage/participate in this project, and the protagonist’s detachment eventually becomes a source of tension as the women become increasingly intimate in front of (and, consequently, with) their director. The gaze of Brisseau’s camera is analogous to François’s voyeurism, lacing the proceedings with an autobiographical tinge, and the presence of angels/demons who watch and comment upon (and subtly manipulate?) François’ activities furthers the impression that Exterminating Angels’ primary concern is the dynamic shared between watcher and watched. It’s a multifaceted relationship about which Brisseau isn’t interested in providing concrete answers, but rather one that, with this indulgent, quasi-pornographic, and strangely metaphysical film, he surveys with a mixture of confusion, fear, excitement and awe.