Directed by Catherine Breillat

Starring Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stevenin, Francios Berleand

French with subtitles

Leave it to the French to find new ways of having sex without actually touching. Pretty boy Paul (Stevenin) lives with Marie (Ducey) in a pure white Parisian apartment, but won’t have sex with her, or anyone else, either. He taunts her by flirting with every other girl on the dance floor, but it’s just for fun, since he doesn’t sleep with them. Poor Marie! Driven mad because Paul won’t boff, she turns nympho, having wild sex with everyone she meets. As long as there is no kissing or looking each other in the eyes, it doesn’t count as adultery. Sort of like sex in the White House. Eventually, she convinces Paul to impregnate her, but that crafty boy does it so no one gets an orgasm. Now, she must kill him. Oooh — sooo Continental!

Motivation is everything in this film. Why won’t Paul make love to pretty Marie? He’s not gay, not impotent, but just not interested. Why doesn’t Marie take a hike? Is it the challenge of getting it on with the biggest loser in France? Everyone else she meets gets a piece, so she’s no prude. What about her boss? He claims 10,000 conquests, documented and certified by the Guinness folks, and enjoys tying Marie up in a gentle loving manner. And where did that cat appear from in the last scene? Maybe we just missed it, lost against the Yves St Laurent White apartment.

Romance is one of the least romantic movies around. While it holds a strong element of psychological intrigue, it’s more triple X hardcore than romantic comedy. Turgid male genitalia, bondage, oral and anal sex make this a third or fourth date movie at best. Pornography without eroticism, sex without lust, existentialism without hopelessness as Bukowski replaces Camus, Romance showcases the New French Existentialism. See this film, smoke a cigarette as you stare into the ceiling, and contemplate suicide. I’ll join you in a minute.

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