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THE GIRL * 1/2

STARRING: Agathe de la Boulaye, Claire Keim

DIRECTOR: Sande Zeig

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes

RATING: No rating but R equivalent for nudity and sex

THE LOWDOWN: A look at pretensions and relationship problems among lesbians in Paris

"The girl has nerve. . . . She sings in a nightclub. . . . The first time I ask her, she takes me home. . . . I call her Agnus Dei."

That name is from the Mass, as in "Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world." Just thought you'd want to know the translation. There's a lot of that in the voice-over narration in "The Girl."

Agnus just calls the narrator "lover." It's Paris, see. The semantic climate of the movie is no-consequence ersatz Robbe-Grillet with storm clouds threatening total triviality. When people aren't called "Agnus" and "Lover," they're just called "The Girl" and "the painter."

When Agnus sings at the Parisian nightclub where she stars, she sounds like a modified Eartha Kitt. She has a nicely feline face, too. She has the voice of a very smart girl getting an M.F.A. in jazz singing from Texas State University. "Lover" looks a little like Phoebe Cates. She's a painter who wears man-tailored suits and paints her live-in girlfriend a lot - until, of course, her girlfriend finds out about the illicit dalliances with Agnus and moves on to a boyfriend. "Fraulein delights have violent ends" her girlfriend tells "Lover," yet another of many foreshadowings of the plot.

Agnus and Lover couple on the q.t. about every 15 minutes in the film (average for soft-core) even though Agnus is also involved with the club's male proprietor. The skin, like everything else, seems to have been severely rationed out in this movie to keep everything fashionably thin. Call it the nouvelle cuisine approach to sex. (The movie, by the way, is in English.)

The "fraulein delights" become mixed doubles and nothing if not complicated. "Lover," we find out, can more than hold her own in a street fight with tough men.

Nevertheless, violent ends there indeed are. Film noir was the intention - that and that kind of compulsive doomed romance the French call amour fou.

If there's such a thing as soft-core lesbian porn with the porn somehow left out, "The Girl" is it.

Take this from "Critic": consider it something more like "amor fooey."


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