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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ROMANCE (1999)

Catherine Breillat’s disquisition on the search to find love & sex in a single package comes with de rigueur NC-17 trimmings (pubes/erections/actual oral/simulated copulation/modest S&M bondage) which neither titillate, arouse nor inform. (They do engender a bit of ribald amusement for non-French speakers who must peep thru subtitles placed, naughtily, right in front of the action, so to speak.) A comic tone seems implied (the sick joke finale certainly leans to farce), but the screenplay’s fatuous philosophical blathering kills off any response, comic or erotic. Perhaps if the girl in question weren’t so boyishly flat-chested or deigned to comb the hair off her face? Or if she noticed that her putative lover was probably gay. Or maybe if she cracked a smile when her new, unattractive lover (Mr Bondage) claimed not to remember each of his 10,000 lovers. (What, forgot Mme. 845?) Even the glossy magazine look of the film turns into overkill with one over-composed scene canceling out the last while we wait for the next excruciating character revealing apercu to land with a thud. And once Jack the Ripper is referenced, we know that Breillat has LULU/PANDORA’S BOX in mind. It’s a bit of a reach.

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