A great admirer of Oshima’s legendary and explicit Empire of the Senses, Breillat always dreamt of making a film that was really about physical love. This is that film – about a woman who submits herself with passion to the sensual and mystical desire for physical and romantic love. A film of extremes: fire and ice.
The words of Romance are like Marie’s soul, the image is like her body. Paul loves Marie. But Paul can no longer make love to Marie. For Marie this is an unsurmountable obstacle. Marie can’t make a distinction between the emotional and physical sides of love. Marie loves absolutely, body and soul, and is waiting for this in return from the one she loves.Marie will try to possess Paul’s body. It results in failure. To continue living her love for Paul, Marie will then give herself to other bodies. She’ll give herself but give nothing. Thus Marie finds that her heart and body will split up. She meets Paolo, who passionately loves to fuck her, but won’t say ‘I love you’. (As lovers Paul and Paolo are asymmetrical. Paul a very handsome man, has a small cock and a low sex drive, Paolo is the ultimate Latin Lover). She meets Robert, an older man into SM, with whom she’ll conduct some borderline games, even though she takes the risk of being compelled to go beyond what’s acceptable. Because we only ever desire that which we refuse.But the sexual insatiability of Marie doesn’t stop there. Marie’s body is empty. A hole. Hence the idea of filling that body and having a child with Paul. The child as physical bond between Paul and Marie, as a replacement for the sexual relationship, to reunite the body with the soul of Marie. The child is conceived. But Marie is alone with the child in her belly. Paul does not experience the pregnancy of Marie. It is the last insurmountable failure in the love between Paul and Marie. In order to survive this lost love, Marie has to ‘be able to mourn’ about Paul. Marie kills Paul. Then she bears the child into the world. The child’s name is Paul. Marie’s love is diverted to the other Paul. A physical and mental love, finally. –IFFR
Author and filmmaker Catherine Breillat has gained a reputation as one of the most controversial women in contemporary arts and letters for her work, which often focuses on the erotic and emotional lives of young women, as told from the woman’s perspective. Born in Bressuire, France, in 1948, Breillat developed a reputation for challenging public mores early on; at the age of 17, she published her first novel, L’homme facile, which became a cause célèbre for its blunt language and open depiction of sexual subject matter. The controversy generated by L’homme facile gave Breillat enough recognition that she was able to pursue a career as a writer, and between 1968 and 1975, she published three novels and a stage drama, as well as making her acting debut with a small role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris. In 1975, Breillat moved behind the camera by writing, designing, and directing Une vraie jeune fille, which was adapted from one of Breillat’s… read more
I'm stunned by how underrated this film is. A masterpiece of feminist film making; so assured, so atmospheric and oddly poetic. Like a work by Kubrick or a restrained Lynch. Makes a perfect double bill with von Triers "Antichrist" btw. A+