An Affair of Love | Chicago Reader

An Affair of Love

Despite the awkward title, I can fully understand Fine Line Features' decision to rename this touching and erotic but not too explicit French movie, originally called Une liaison pornographique, because it really is a love story in spite of everything. There are interesting ground rules both to the film's central relationship and to the story that describes it. A nameless couple (Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez) meet through the classifieds to explore a particular sexual fantasy that is never revealed to us; each week they have sex in a hotel but reveal nothing about their lives or identities to each other or to us. (The characters narrate the story by speaking separately to the same offscreen male interviewer.) Eventually they start to fall in love. Ironically, the only scene in the film featuring sex between them—it's the one time they have traditional intercourse—is included because it charts the onset of their love. Director Frederic Fonteyne copes pretty well with the built-in restrictions of Philippe Blasband's script, but this 1999 movie really belongs to Baye (best known for her work with Truffaut and Godard) and Lopez (best known for his work with Manuel Poirier), both so skillful they almost make you forget that what you're watching is close to a stunt—one oddly evocative of Graham Greene in its doomed romanticism but at times also minimalist to a fault. In French with subtitles. 80 min.

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