Love Forbidden

Writer, director and star Rodolphe Marconi began his second feature film at the real French Academy, housed in Rome's Villa Medici, the setting for this exploration of a hothouse three-way romance that develops between two young writers and a filmmaker. Vulnerable 24-year-old French director Bruce (in Marconi's defense, he took over the lead when another...read more

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Writer, director and star Rodolphe Marconi began his second feature film at the real French Academy, housed in Rome's Villa Medici, the setting for this exploration of a hothouse three-way romance that develops between two young writers and a filmmaker. Vulnerable 24-year-old French director Bruce (in Marconi's defense, he took over the lead when another actor abandoned the project at the 11th hour) arrives to participate in a prestigious artists' retreat at the French Academy reeling from two recent emotional body blows. He's broken up with his girlfriend and survived the AIDS-related death of his brother, a novelist whose fame always overshadowed Bruce's own artistic endeavors. The other boarders are an international group of dewy young writers, painters, poets and other artists whose government-sponsored working holiday has few rules: They're expected to produce work, inspire each other, exchange ideas... just about anything goes, except wasting their precious energies dabbling in affairs of the heart. Bruce promptly entangles himself in a sexually charged but ambiguous flirtation with Italian library intern Matteo (Andrea Necci) who, unlike the privileged boarders, is working for his keep and stewing in class-based hatred. He particularly despises Aston (Echo Danon), a young American woman who's obsessed with serial killers and has written a "novel about sex." Bruce and Matteo finally consummate their relationship, which only makes matters worse; Matteo becomes distant and Bruce surrenders to obsession, stalking Matteo and sublimating his neediness into an intense friendship with Aston, who's also ignored the program's prohibition on love. She's embroiled in a humiliating affair with a man who alternately gives her rapturous sexual pleasure and makes her feel worthless, insisting that she tell no-one about their relationship. It's not revealing much to say that no good comes of their romantic travails. With the exception of the emotionally manipulative score, which evokes near religious ecstasy during Matteo and Bruce's sex scene, Marconi's style is almost austere enough to pass Dogma 95 muster, using available light and affecting a kind of compositional artlessness that suggests a video diary. And though Bruce is in his 20s, his emotional development seems to be that of a teenager and the film faithfully documents his immature self-destructiveness without imposing any perspective on it. The result is rather like eavesdropping on a bright but painfully self-absorbed adolescent's secret thoughts: sometimes fascinating, other times just infuriating. (In French, Italian and English, with subtitles)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Writer, director and star Rodolphe Marconi began his second feature film at the real French Academy, housed in Rome's Villa Medici, the setting for this exploration of a hothouse three-way romance that develops between two young writers and a filmmaker. Vu… (more)

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