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Romance (1999)

Cast: Caroline Ducey, Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, more...
Director: Catherine Breillat, Catherine Breillat
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Lions Gate
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Independent, France, Erotica
Running Time: 98 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Like Nagisa Oshima's erotic masterpiece In the Realm of the Senses (1976), this film's shockingly graphic depiction of sex blurs the line between art and pornography. Marie (Caroline Ducey) is unfulfilled by her relationship with Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), her narcissistic male model boyfriend, who refuses to show her any kind of physical affection, much less make love to her. Frustrated, she decides to take matters into her own hands, and she finds one night of tenderness and passion in the arms of Paolo, a man she met in a bar, played by Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. Later, she is seduced by an older man, Robert (François Berléand), who introduces her to bondage and sadomasochism. As she allows herself to be bound, gagged, and forced into bizarre contortions, her flirtation with the wild side pushes her into increasingly frightening and degrading situations. Yet, like Catherine Deneuve's Sévérine in Belle de jour (1967), after each tryst she returns to her emotionally remote boyfriend as if nothing happened. One night, taken by Marie's renewed vitality, Paul holds her and begins to make love to her. Although he selfishly withdraws halfway through and casts her aside, he manages to impregnate her; after he proposes, Marie begins to feel society's constraints on her newly liberated sexuality, and she eventually decides to take violent action to salvage it. Unlike most sexually explicit works, the film is expressed from the female perspective. Director Catherine Breillat places the viewer inside Marie's mind through the camera's point-of-view, which in one scene lingers lovingly on Siffredi's camera-friendly anatomy, and through Marie's voice-overs, which provide access to her private thoughts. Brought to life by Ducey's tour-de-force performance, Romance is a confrontational yet emotional work that is not easy to forget. The film premiered at the 1999 Rotterdam Film Festival and was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Maybe something was lost in translation. by jpurdom February 13, 2012 - 6:15 PM PST
This is a rather bad movie. First I would question the initial reviewer. 'Shockingly graphic sex"??? Be forewarned, the most graphic shot of a vagina in this movie has a baby coming out of it... and it is graphic. The birth movies that you watch in pre-natal classes have nothing on this movie.

The rest of the movie is full of this woman talking about tired, cliched stereotypes. I think the 'clever' thing about this movie was supposed to be that they are reversed. Its the guy who is a frigid unloving person and the woman is the sex-starved raving slut. It might have worked if the dialog hadn't been written by sex starved 3rd-graders.

Ugh by JGereben January 1, 2006 - 10:39 AM PST
3 out of 7 members found this review helpful
If you want to see a good film that happens to be "pornographic," "Green Chair" is the ticket. If you want to see characters and a story grating on the mind and feelings to the point of unwanted, angry "arousal," "Romance" is the one. Yuck.

an analysis of a woman's mind by pyeung May 31, 2005 - 11:28 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Roger Ebert encapsulates the themes of this film really well. He mentions that Marie doesn't really know what she wants with her boyfriend, Paul, as she was on a "dogged march to orgasm." The film is about how Marie deals with her relationship with Paul, who remains emotionally and sexually distant. She cheats on Paul with Paolo but realizes that she cannot love Paolo. At the end of her sessions with Robert, she still returns to Paul. Her love for Paul prompts her to have these flings with the other men in order to fulfill her sexual frustrations. Her dilemma with sex and love is played out really well. My favorite scene of the movie is towards the end when a pregnant Marie sits next to Paul at the bar. They keep glancing at each other?s shoulder but never make eye contact. This agonizing silence and the chilly atmosphere enlighten Marie about Paul. It is at that moment when she finally recognizes that the burden of their relationship is too much and becomes unbearable. Maybe, she realizes that she never really loves him. Marie keeps thinking throughout the film and her narrative shows her gradual change in attitude and idea about love and sex. I find that to be very exciting to watch as each scene adds to the complexity of her character.

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(Average 5.46)
278 Votes
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