Romance | Chicago Reader


French filmmaker and novelist Catherine Breillat is already a disputed figure for the frankness about sex and sexual desire and the lack of political correctness in many of her previous features (e.g., 36 fillette). Inspired in part by Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses, this story about a young grammar-school teacher (Caroline Ducey) who starts sleeping around when her lover and flatmate (Sagamore Stevinen) loses interest in having sex with her is Breillat's most explicit and controversial film to date (if not necessarily her best). The heroine's voice-over, conventionally poetic and fairly constant, provides a kind of counterpoint to the sex. The story isn't always believable, and some protracted bondage sequences may stretch your patience if you don't pick up on their poker-faced comedy (the prosaic man tying the knots, who claims to have made love to 10,000 women, is the heroine's boss). There's also some hokey essentialism about motherhood that I could have done without, and when the film drifts off into fantasy at the end, Breillat's tone becomes less confident. But the eroticism is powerful, and the documentary candor and directness of the sex scenes make this well worth seeing.


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