Briefly notorious around the time of its release for being just about the most sexually explicit art-house film to be passed uncut by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), Romance
is strong stuff, as forebodingly enigmatic as it is confrontational. Schoolteacher Marie (Caroline Ducey) lives with her boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), a vapid male model. When he refuses to have sex with her anymore she seeks out loveless couplings with, among others, an Italian widower (Rocco Siffredi, a porn star in real life) and her headmaster (François Berléand), who introduces her to bondage. Marie's abject, monotonous voiceover tartly undercuts any potential titillation the images might offer (although there'll be no stopping some viewers from watching this with the sound off). With all the careful, neutral-coloured tailoring and immaculately whitened set dressing, it's a bit like a film edition of Elle Interiors
as edited by Anaïs Nin. For all that, you have to admire director Catherine Breillat's willingness to take risks--and certainly Romance
potentially risks boring as many readers as it shocks others. No less intrepid is Ducey, literally exposing herself in a way few actresses would dare. Whether the film really opens up and interrogates the nature of female sexuality, Breillat's stated aim, is debatable, but there's no doubting the film's visceral impact.--Leslie Felperin
Teacher Marie (Caroline Ducey) is frustrated by the refusal of her boyfriend, Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), to make love to her, and so embarks on a series of sexual encounters. Her new lovers include a young Italian, Paolo, whom she picks up in a bar, and Robert, a superior at school, but it is still Paul that Marie loves, and she yearns to have his child.