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Ad of the Day: Penélope Cruz's Directorial Debut, for Agent Provocateur, Is a Sleaze-Fest


Forget about casting calls. Booty calls may have been the order of the day for this five-minute film written and directed by Oscar-winning actress Penélope Cruz for L'Agent—the lingerie line she and her sister Mónica designed for Agent Provocateur.

Actor Miguel Angel Silvestre sports a scraggly beard and perpetual pout as he dons L'Agent shades that allow him to see all the sexy women at a fancy house party clad only in L'Agent underwear. (The chiseled dudes remain fully clothed, pouting for all they're worth.)

The sheer volume of thonged and bikini-bound lady butts that Silvestre ogles is staggering. Oh, midriffs, thighs and cleavage get ample exposure—but toned tushes are everywhere, and the camera caresses each curve. There are so many beauteous buns on display, this could have been an ad for a bakery.

Ladies hang from gymnastics rings, lounge on the carpet and dance in a kiddie pool. One gal's down on all fours, reading. (I was shocked. A lingerie model reading!?) A very pregnant Mónica Cruz makes a cameo, clad in a negligee, leaning against a wall. When Sports Illustrated cover-babe Irina Shayk goes into lap-dance mode, Silvestre's pout intensifies and he passes out.

The slow-burn/bouncy club beats on the soundtrack are kind of annoying. They diminished my enjoyment of the glutes. But just a little.

Penélope's husband Javier Bardem appears near the end, and we learn that the whole party scenario was just Silvestre's dream, which is, of course, a completely original, never-before-attempted twist so clever and unexpected that it will surprise and delight viewers, even though I just gave it away.

Snark aside, Cruz, in her directorial debut, manages to create a soft-core mini-masterpiece of derivatively trashy not-quite-art. Its many clichés—the decadent party, nonstop nonsex, X-ray specs, a tired "trick ending"—actually work in its favor. It feels familiar yet fresh at the same time. I was thoroughly seduced by its cheeky charms. It's certainly never boring.

Perhaps Cruz intends this absurdly ass-driven vision as a subversive or even ironically feminist commentary on … I dunno … beauty? Fashion? Sexuality? Society's objectification of women in the service of commerce? Men's objectification of women in the service of themselves? More likely, it's just an overheated slice of stylized sleaze designed to sell bras and panties.

It might not herald the arrival of a brilliant auteur, but this is still the kind of work I can really get behind.

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