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    Let's do raunch

    A couple's emotionless, adulterous lunchtime get-togethers are the starting point for exploring eroticism and the lack of it in the explicit London-based but French-directed "Intimacy."


    (Originally reviewed at the New York Film Festival in September 2001.)

    Every Wednesday afternoon, Jay (Mark Rylance), a divorced, bitter, bar manager, opens the door of his seemingly abandoned-looking house to Claire (Kerry Fox). They don't talk much and hardly look at each other. Jay leads Claire into his room on the first floor, they franticly strip each other and engage in a wide array of sexual activities. Then they dress and she leaves.

    Original title: Intimitˇ.
    Directed by: Patrice Chereau.
    Written by: Patrice Chereau, Anne-Louise Trividic.
    Adapted from the stories "Intimacy" and "Night Light" by: Hanif Kureishi.
    Cast: Mark Rylance, Kerry Fox, Timothy Spall, Alastair Galbraith, Philippe Calvario, Marianne Faithfull, Susannah Harker, Fraser Ayres, Michael Fitzgerald, Robert Addie, Deborah McLaren, Rebecca R. Palmer.
    Cinematography: Eric Gautier.

    Related links: Official site | Official site (French)
    New York Film Festival 2001

    All About Lily Chou-Chou
    Blue Wild Angel
    La Cienaga
    Fat Girl
    The Royal Tenenbaums
    Mulholland Drive
    Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.
    Waking Life
    Va Savoir
    Y Tu Mama Tambien
    "Intimacy," the new film by French director Patrice Chereau, shot in London and adapted from two short stories by British writer Hanif Kureishi — "Intimacy" and "Night Light" — is a hardcore look at human relations in contemporary society.

    The identity of Claire remains a mystery for the first half of the film, and although the mystery is more interesting than the resolution, I won't spoil it for potential viewers. Jay becomes entranced with Claire's life and begins to follow her. When on a Wednesday afternoon she doesn't show up, he is devastated. He starts questioning the relationship. He doesn't know anything about her but seems unable to stop these encounters. He tells one of his roommates, "She's all I got." And she probably is. The desperation, misery and self-destructiveness that these characters portray are even more heightened by how they grab, fondle, bite and scratch each other until their skin is tattooed with the pattern of the carpet.

    Other characters are affected by and affect this relationship. Jay's roommate Ian (Philippe Calvario), a homosexual bartender who also works at the same bar, under the pedantic management of Jay, physically resembles Jay. When Ian points out Jay's inability to reach any kind of intimacy with someone, it almost sounds like Jay's alter ego were speaking. Different characters' stories — from Claire's husband Andy (an excellent performance by Timothy Spall), a laid-back cab driver, to Victor (Alastair Galbraith), a hyper, insecure drug addict — intertwine as we try to understand why people stay together or break apart.

    Patrice Chereau lets his actors develop the different threads by letting them go through entire scenes without cutting. Much of the film is done with a hand-held camera (not the sex scenes, though). Cinematographer Eric Gautier turns the camera into a peephole, making us feel more like voyeurs. The realism — to say the least — of the sex scenes will surely draw audiences, but the film is a lot deeper than that (no pun intended). Ultimately, "Intimacy" poses universal questions about sex and human relationships and is well worth your while.

    OCTOBER 20, 2001

    Reader comments on Intimacy:

  • [no subject]   from Sandino, Apr 25, 2003
  • GREAT   from ELIAS, May 29, 2003
  • Re: GREAT   from CHANTELLE, Jul 12, 2005
  • [no subject]   from Mistavo Voresta, Jun 21, 2004
  • HORNY BUT REAL   from PABLO HERNANDEZ, May 25, 2005

  • Post a comment on "Intimacy"