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3.0 out of 5 stars35
3.0 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2006
Probably the most sexually explicit film released in British cinemas at the time, this though is very much an "art film .

Described by Jonathan Ross as " in just one word...Magnifique", it's certainly very daring, and Caroline Ducey gives a tremendous (and tremendously brave) performance as a young Frenchwoman who although living with (and still in love with )her boyfriend feels compelled to seek out sexual gratifiction with other people, no matter how sordid or empty the encounter is.

My only real problem with it is that it's very introspective and if i'm honest a little bit pretentious, especially in the fantasy sequence. But then maybe that's the point director Catherine Breillat (A Ma Souer, Anatomy Of Hell) intended.

Having seen several of her films, i have to say the one i enjoyed the most was Sex Is Comedy, mainly because it's about film-making and the problems a director faces when making films with sexual content.

Ultimately it's a film which will divide virtually any audience, ..see it and decide for youself.
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on 24 March 2003
this is a very interesting film. for once a woman's sexuality is explored, where we would usually expect the male perspective. whatever her motives may be for her relationship or her infidelity, they are not clearly articulated, and we are left to reflect on them - we are introduced to her and her unfulfilling relationship, then to a succession of lovers, each of whom provoke different questions about relationships, sexuality and how men view women.
the artistic aspect of the film is prominent, using elements from western art to illustrate the image of women in mainstream cinema. the interiors of the various apartments are very symbolic, particularly the artwork displayed in the s&m enthusiast's flat.
where this film breaks down for many viewers is in the explicit sex scenes filmed in an impartial, objective way. the lack of eroticism may be a disappointment to those viewers who expected a slice of intellectual porn, but for many people it provides a welcome change from representations of women as objects which exist to fulfil men's sexual desire.
i thoroughly recommend this film, if only because i am still thinking about it a month or so after seeing it - that kind of thought-provoking cinema happens only very rarely.
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on 15 September 2003
Romance is a shocking yet compelling view, which covers the insatiable sexual appetite of French schoolteacher Marie (Caroline Ducey) following the refusal of her boyfriend (Sagamore Stevenin) to continue with a physical relationship.
Catherine Breillat (Director) certainly showed positive strength in regards to exploring new avenues within the film industry when trying to portray everyday life.
The film is more Art House Porn than Film Noir due to its very aggressive portrayal of sex and following and may I seem surprised its approval by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) despite its very explicit sex scenes of which the only way I can describe in clean text is that you actually see it going in. I can only say that at the time of its release French film directors were at the forefront of modern/alternative film production and I’m sure there are many more out there like it.
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on 3 February 2001
The train of thought in this film seems to be about how the main character punishes herself and allows herself to be taken advantage of without taking any responsibility for her situation. her fiance is incredibly vain and holds her in contempt. The unbelievable aspect of this film is she seems to have no supportive friends who can tell her what they think (being lectured to and whipped is hardly supportive). The events in the film are about what we imagine when we feel stuck in a situation which we can't get out of, an escape from her realities with a self destructive edge. When in reality she might have shouted at him a bit and left him if nothing changed. If the sex scenes weren't so strong we'd only have a weak storyline remaining.
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This is a very good, very French film. From the reviews, it seems to have confused a great many people: not only are the protagonists bizaarely unfathomable, but the young lady maintains this unbearably insipid dialogue going about what she is experiencing and why, a kind of cheesy left-bank philosophy that . However, these things should not be taken at face value, in my opinion, but as ironic view into the characters: they are indeed lost idiots, clueless about how to live their lives without inflicting cruelties on anyone close to them, and thinking way too much in the self-important manner of dim-witted narcissists. Those are the characters involved.

The plot involves the retaliation of a pretty young woman against her boyfriend. For whatever reason, he has lost all sexual interest in her and is abruptly cruel while openly flirting with other women. She observes this in a heartbroken way, continually trying to seduce him - all graphically acted out - and yet she cannot bring herself to leave him. This is odd because there is absolutely nothing interesting about him (or her for that matter), there is no emotion or warmth on display from either of them, and the passion if it ever existed is long dead. So instead of leaving him, she decides to get even by seeking a series of ever more degrading sexual encounters. It is horribly explicit.

This is not pornography because it is not meant to titillate. The girl is sullen and blank in every one of the situations, never showing the slightest pleasure or interest in her partners. Indeed, the only pleasure she shows is a fit of despairing auto-satisfaction, all the time describing to herself what she is feeling in a detached and idiotic voice, without real insight. It is genuinely awful, a kind of static emptiness. Another artful twist is the long, unexplained sequences, when the viewer must guess what is happening. They don't make sense and are not tied off as you would expect in a hollywood film; this creates gaps that the viewer must fill in, must work to interpret. That too is a trait of many good French films.

I enjoyed this on re-viewing, even if it is sad and cruel. It is deep psychodrama that should not be taken at face value. Recommended.
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on 6 September 2000
I was watching this film in an Art cinema in Cambridge when it first was released, and there was a few men who left halfway through when they could not take it anymore. Some of them even laughed at the sex scenes, but this ia a deeply disturbing film on female sexuality. The pressures of culture means that it is usually not possible for females to express their animalistic sexual desires as much as males can, hence Ms. Breillat's film provides a rare opening in to the female psyche when all inhibitions are released. For those interested in porn, it is best to get a proper video, as this has strong sentiments attach to it, and it has the capacity to offend and disturb. Go see it. You would probably be moved, but not be turned on.
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on 20 April 2000
Saw this file at the Forum cinema in Northampton.
Certainly an adult film but maybe the sort of film that adults ought to be allowed to see (better than the excessive violence that seems to be too frequent these days).
Dave Irvine
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on 30 May 2000
This is a film that has caused quite a stir! Totally in French, so subtitles throughout. At first it seems just like any other 'adult' movie. However, when the character of Robert (school headmaster?) arrives on the scene, things start moving somewhat. He subjects Marie to some bondage, then takes her out for cavier!
If you do not like nudity, sex or bondage, DO NOT WATCH IT!
Clearly, this film streches the boundaries of what is 'art'. How much further along the line of bondage/S&M with a reduction in 'arty' content things go is up to the censor!
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on 27 May 2014
A young woman is in a sexless relationship with her boyfriend. He enjoys flirting with other women and treating her badly . She decides to find sex for herself , first with a stud [ yes its Rocco Siffredi !] and the an aging ugly sm master. The conversations are very French philosophy and the sets very stylised , but it totally hooks you in , making you squirm and also laugh , when she finally decides to take her revenge . This is art more than porn , but its definitely up there with Shortbus and Ages of Lulu , with the best films about sex.
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on 31 July 2000
This film blew me away! If you are after a thrill forget it - get a porn vid, but f you are after having your mind stretched a little way towards those places that the French female intellect can take you - watch this film. It's dark, it's erotic, it's depressing and VERY intense.
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