It began as a purely sexual arrangement. She had a fantasy. He was willing to fulfill her needs. They met once a week at a cafe and moved on to a hotel. They shared no personal information. They didnt even know each others... more » names. It was a perfect relationship until they fell in love. Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 05/10/2005 Starring: Nathalie Baye Sergio Lopez Run time: 78 minutes Rating: R Director: Frederic Tonteyne« less
"I really, really liked this film. It is modern, stylish, and quintissentially French. The actors have a depth and range, and convey their emotions flawlessly. The premise is simple: a woman puts an ad in a magazine advertising a sexual fantasy she has that she wants to act out. Her intent is to have a purely sexual affair, no names, no details of every day life, no mess. A man answers her ad, shows up to meet her at a cafe, and they decide to go forward to this mysterious place they will create together, alone.They begin to meet weekly at a hotel, and sometimes first at the cafe. They stumble over emotions which crop up here and there, and have trouble deciding whether or not to stay in each other's company for a drink after their liasions, whether to let Him drive Her home. They have the drink. She opts for the Metro. They do this dance of uncomfortable union around each otber. I give this movie Five stars for really incredible acting, as well as nice use of color and style (ie: deep, dark reds (for the hallway in the hotel), subdued blues (for the room, which we don't get to see at first, but which becomes open more and more to us as the couple's relationship progresses), nice shots of the cafe, the streets in the rain, etc). I found both stars highly magnetic and attractive, and very, very expressive. The man carried his heart in his eyes, and they reflected the joy he felt with her, the intense sorrow, the restless erotic anticipation. In turn, the woman's mannerisms and movements seemed to reflect the stages of their relationship. This film is a must-see for fans of modern World Cinema. It played at the Seattle International film festival, where Nathalie Baye won an award for Best Actress."
A thoughtful and sensual meditation on the nature of romance
Lawrence Shapiro | Vancouver, British Columbia | 12/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Originally released in North America as "A Pornographic Affair",this tri-national production (Belgian director,Spanish actor, French actress)is a highly intelligent and thoroughly adult exploration into the complex and often disappointing world of romantic relationships. Operating very much in the same dynamic as "Last Tango In Paris" in which Marlon Brando's character insisted on not revealing his identitiy as a way of creating a new one,"An Affair Of Love" finds two Parisians without names connecting through an ad in a magazine and pursuing a thoroughly physical interaction. Most interesting is that the entire relationship is actually a flashback as the two characters relate their experiences to an off-screen interviewer creating a wonderfully semi-documentary feel to the film. While the relationship of the two begins as purely sexual (in fact the very first line of the film begins with the woman discussing sex) it soon develops into a larger exploration on the nature of love and relationships thereby underscoring the irony of the original title of the film. French screen legend Nathalie Baye, at 52, conveys an irrestable allure both sexually and sensually and while the characters of the film do not escape sadness, the ideas and sensibilities of "An Affair of Love" credit both its creators and their audience. Highly recommended."
On crossing bondaries
Tintin | Winchester, MA USA | 09/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frederic Fonteyne's Une Liaison Pornographique (US title, An Affair of Love) is an unusual love story, insofar as it unfolds "in reverse." Every Thursday, at the same hotel, at the same café, "He" and "She" (they are totally anonymous) meet in order to satisfy their sexual phantasm. Their anonymity is not without recalling Alain Renais' characters in Hiroshima Mon Amour (1958) or Last Year at Marienbad (1961). But here the ordeal is not that of the memory nor of the bomb, but that of a trite story of two people who do not know how to love and communicate.
"She" (Nathalie Baye), a mid-fortyish, confident, unattached woman, felt the need to realize a sexual phantasm. To this end, she placed a classified ad in a pornographic journal (or was it on the internet?). "He" (Sergi Lopez), a handsome man, ten years her junior, answered it. Now sitting at two different locations, they recall their adventure to an unseen man, answering his questions, as the camera goes back and forth between the two characters. Their descriptions of the circumstances which lead to their first meeting are remarkable by their lack of consistency. But, if their recollections of specific facts have grown vague, the strong emotions engendered by their love for each other and their tragic break-up are still very much alive. The rest of the story is presented in a series of flashbacks, interspersed with the characters' comments to the interviewer.
In spite of their national origins, young Belgium director Frederic Fonteyne and Iranian scenarist Philippe Blasband have managed to create the quintessential French film: a film created for adults, with a theme to match, unusual maybe, but still taken out of "real" life, psychological, philosophical and challenging to the viewer. Fonteyne, in spite of his young age (he was born in 1968), speaks about love and feelings with great maturity. He mystifies the viewer with his approach to modern sexuality. No longer is it about a budding love implicating sexuality, but about sexuality implicating love, the latter being reconsidered by the urban individualism and a fear of commitment prevalent in our modern society.
Blasband's scenario presents his love story "upside-down." Starting from a fantasy, which will eventually end up in love, he surrounds the slow but inevitable drift of the protagonists' feelings for each other. Refined, with simple and subtle dialogue, he facilitated enormously the director's work. For these two protagonists, it is not even a question of a "love at first sight" incident which leads to an immediate sexual encounter, and which, with time, gives birth to romantic love. In this story, they meet, not having even seen each other (although "She" first states that he had sent her his picture, but she seems to contradict herself later on, and "He" says he had not sent a picture) for the only purpose of satisfying a very particular fantasy that she has proposed in her ad and that "He" had, at one point, obviously considered himself. It could have been a complete mismatch of personality, physicality, mentality, and emotionality. As it turned out, however, there seemed by some stroke of fate to be some mutual attraction right from the start.
The two characters recount to a third party, with emotion and an air of propriety, the passion that they were unable either to control or to really confess to each other. We know that their experiment was a failure, because from the outset, their testimonies indicate that they are apart. But the way each talks about "the other" makes us want to discover this "other." We would like to get involved in their story, know their pasts, their presents, and understand why they speak about the "other" with so much nostalgia. They will never know each other's names, their ages, professions, what they do after their trysts, and we'll never know, either.
The rhythm and content of the story is controlled by the two protagonists who refuse to disclose the nature of their fantasy, allowing the director to impose upon the viewer the role of voyeur by limiting the viewer's space to that of the fantasy never revealed. Actually, the word "pornographique" in the original title, Une Affaire Pornographique, is a joke, as there is nothing pornographic about this film. Unfortunately, the distributor's arbitrary change of the original film title for the distribution in the United States, in order to conform to its apparent puritanism, denies Fonteyne's intention to fully condition, right from the start, the viewer's state of mind. Each time the camera in the red hotel hallway bumps against the closed door of room 118 (red is the color of a phantasm that remains a secret), it renews and heightens the voyeur-viewer's interest. This contrasts sharply with the only time the camera penetrates in the lovers' blue room to witness a banal love scene, which in fact leaves the viewer even more bewildered as to the nature of the fantasy.
The success of this film rests entirely on the flawless acting of Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez. In this film, these two actors developed chemistry, which is the undeniable sign of mature actors. Their interaction is totally genuine in their exchanges, both verbal and unspoken. We can read on her face the birth of her love for "He": she wants to be happy next to this man, this one and none other. "He" drinks cognac and dips sugar cubes into it while undressing her with his eyes. We can tell that this man knows how to love women, mixing tenderness with desire. There are also their gestures: "Her" expressing herself with her hands, admitting her need to always talk, even during love-making. "He" is reserved, observant, always answering her many questions.
The original film score is some electronic music, unfortunately up to now unavailable on CD, by Andre Dziezuk, Marc Mergen, and Jeannot Sanavia. There is a Rachel's track, "Lloyd's Register," which is available on their album, "The Sea and the Bells." When the credits are rolling, one hears a downtempo/trip-hop, drum and bass music, which recalls Funki Porcini. It all fits perfectly with this unreal situation.
The shooting of the film took place in Paris, more exactly on the Avenue Kleber, which runs between the Place Charles de Gaulle and Place du Trocadero, right at the metro stop, Boissiere, where the cafe is located. However, the hotel which in the story is just nearby the cafe is in fact physically located near Pigalle.
The main theme of this film is boundaries and their perilous crossings. At the beginning of the film, "She" is within her own world, inside her own boundary. This is symbolically represented during the opening as a crowd of pedestrians seen from her point of view, out of focus. "She" has a sexual fantasy, but in order to satisfy it, she will have to cross the first boundary, one set by society. Her fantasy cannot be fulfilled with members of her own entourage, husband, or intimate friends. For this, "She" must look beyond the boundaries of sociially accepted behavior, to a stranger. As both meet, they will be beyond society's boundaries in their fantasy world. This accomplished, they breach another boundary when feelings develop: the boundary fixed by love. A whole new world appears to them, a totally unexpected world. Finally, there are the boundaries of understanding and commitment, which they are unable to cross. At the very end of the film, we see again a crowd of pedestrians out of focus: she is back within the confines of her own boundary.
As a result, Fonteyne shows us a modern society where sex is no longer taboo, but love is becoming such. He never moralizes or resolves these apparent contradictions, but instead brings them into harmony as never done before him: the modern world denying love and the Judeo-Christian world negating sexuality. In the process, Fonteyne destroys the actuation of the phantasm and reinstates it in the secret, in the intimacy, both personal and private of the viewer.
Finally, the film tackles another great theme in the relationship between man and woman: the incommunicability. The fears that each feels: the fear of love, the fear of confessing this love one bears for the other to the other, the fear of appearing ridiculous, the fear that the feeling may not be reciprocated or has not progressed as rapidly in the other. The final scene at the café reveals and underscores a cruel, intense moment, the like of which I do not remember having ever witnessed in any film before. Very little is actually said, as most of the dialogue is in individual voice-overs. All the walls come crashing down on one woman and one man who, by all accounts, we judge were meant to be united for life. And this failure in a relationship which we were starting to take for granted is due to their incapacity to communicate. "
Warning: Censored, 'cleaned-up' american DVD version
Polymathe | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 08/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an adult movie, for adult audiences. A love affair between two strangers. A misunderstanding and a memory of what it could have been.
I longed for this DVD and just received it from Amazon last week.
But to my disappointment is was a CENSORED version, for the american audiences: Ten minutes were cut from the original european version! All the sexually explicit scenes were banned (true: the movie still keeps it's atmosphere).
I never tought I was ordering a 'clean movies' version.
I'd rather have ordered it from Amazon.fr (integral full-version, with english subtitles)
Tower of Love
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 01/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""An Affair of Love" (numbskull translation from the French, "Une Liason Pornographique") poses the question: How do you avoid falling in love with someone you make love to once a week for six months? The protagonists coyly named (or not named, really) Her (Nathalie Baye, luminous and oozing with humanity) and Him (Sergi Lopez, slightly menacing, slit-eyed, friendly) meet each other through an ad for the sole purpose of having sex once a week. Very Adult, Very French, Very Non- Committed: they go into the affair with their eyes open, their bodies available and willing and their hearts closed. The affair is conducted very much like a fencing match: each one advancing, looking for a reaction and retreating when there is none or not the one they want. It is very apparent to us that they are in love about half way through the film even though they do not know each other's name or anything about each other's life. Is this possible, does this make sense? Oh yes. Loved played at this kind of level is what Her calls: Ivory Tower Love. Love of the highest, though not the deepest order. Director Frederic Fonteyne's mise en scene is bursting with the beauty of the Eiffel Tower area of Paris: cars buzzing by, café's busy with customers drinking espresso and red burgundies and eating plates of cheese and sausages and he throws Him and Her into all of this with the see-all camerawork style of cinema verite'. "An Affair of Love" ends with a huge sigh: not of relief but a sigh of lost chances and wasted opportunities: it is thoughtful, it is real, it is ultimately full of sorrow and regret.