Romance

A French philosophical sex film more reminiscent of "mom and dad" exploitation films than the likes of EMMANUELLE; there's a lot of gynecologically explicit sex in the service of examining the problems men and women have relating to one another, then the whole thing is capped off by some libido-shriveling birth-of-a-baby footage. Demure-looking schoolteacher...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A French philosophical sex film more reminiscent of "mom and dad" exploitation films than the likes of EMMANUELLE; there's a lot of gynecologically explicit sex in the service of examining the problems men and women have relating to one another, then

the whole thing is capped off by some libido-shriveling birth-of-a-baby footage. Demure-looking schoolteacher Marie (Caroline Dulcey) is having a relationship crisis. Her boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stevenin), a model, no longer wants to sleep with her but insists he doesn't want to break up. She

feels rejected and he feels put upon; when they try to talk she gets tearful and hostile, while he retreats into tortured homilies about the difference between love and sex. Marie decides to look for sex elsewhere, first picking up Paolo (Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi) in a café. They have

frequent sex until she rejects him for wanting to be kind to her. Marie then turns to Robert (Francois Berleand), the middle-aged principal of her school. Beneath his ordinary exterior lies a life-long lothario who claims to have slept with some 10,000 women and introduces Marie to S&M sex.

Paradoxically, he becomes quite attached to her and she accepts his tenderness, while searching out even more degrading encounters. Writer-director Catherine Breillat's film is visually stunning and breathtakingly frank, but thrill-seekers beware; this is no French Red Shoe Diaries. Marie's

constant voice over narration reveals what we in the therapy-mad US would call issues; she needs sex but hates her body and takes only bitter pleasure in self-gratification; sees copulation as simultaneously degrading and reverent, seeks both control and domination. As a case study she's a

cypher, but writer-director Catherine Breillat seems more interested in Marie as a symbol of all women, a role she fills even less convincingly.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A French philosophical sex film more reminiscent of "mom and dad" exploitation films than the likes of EMMANUELLE; there's a lot of gynecologically explicit sex in the service of examining the problems men and women have relating to one another, then the… (more)

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