Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Like Nagisa Oshima's erotic masterpiece In the Realm of the Senses (1976), this film's shockingly graphic depiction of sex blurs the line between art and pornography. Marie (Caroline Ducey) is unfulfilled by her relationship with Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), her narcissistic male model boyfriend, who refuses to show her any kind of physical affection, much less make love to her. Frustrated, she decides to take matters into her own hands, and she finds one night of tenderness and passion in the arms of Paolo, a man she met in a bar, played by Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. Later, she is seduced by an older man, Robert (François Berléand), who introduces her to bondage and sadomasochism. As she allows herself to be bound, gagged, and forced into bizarre contortions, her flirtation with the wild side pushes her into increasingly frightening and degrading situations. Yet, like Catherine Deneuve's Sévérine in Belle de jour (1967), after each tryst she returns to her emotionally remote boyfriend as if nothing happened. One night, taken by Marie's renewed vitality, Paul holds her and begins to make love to her. Although he selfishly withdraws halfway through and casts her aside, he manages to impregnate her; after he proposes, Marie begins to feel society's constraints on her newly liberated sexuality, and she eventually decides to take violent action to salvage it. Unlike most sexually explicit works, the film is expressed from the female perspective. Director Catherine Breillat places the viewer inside Marie's mind through the camera's point-of-view, which in one scene lingers lovingly on Siffredi's camera-friendly anatomy, and through Marie's voice-overs, which provide access to her private thoughts. Brought to life by Ducey's tour-de-force performance, Romance is a confrontational yet emotional work that is not easy to forget. The film premiered at the 1999 Rotterdam Film Festival and was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.
boyfriend, pregnancy, relationship, sadomasochism, seduction, sex, sex-starved, sexual-awakening, sexual-deviation