RomanceApril 14, 1999
Although deeply in love with her boyfriend – and indeed sleeping in the same bed with him – a schoolteacher cannot handle the almost complete lack of intimacy he will allow…
Release Year: 1999
Rating: 5.3/10 (5,412 voted)
Critic's Score: 49/100
Stars: Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand
Although deeply in love with her boyfriend – and indeed sleeping in the same bed with him – a schoolteacher cannot handle the almost complete lack of intimacy he will allow. Increasingly frustrated, she gradually finds her sexual appetites leading her into ever more risky situations, including a developing one with the headmaster.
Man on stairs
Fabien de Jomaron
(as Olivier Buchette)
(as Emmanuelle N'guyen)
Love is desolate. Romance is temporary. Sex is forever.
Release Date: 14 April 1999
Opening Weekend: $44,829
(19 September 1999)
(14 November 1999)
Did You Know?
Director Catherine Breillat admitted to choosing Rocco Siffredi because she wanted a well-endowed actor in the role.
At the end of the movie, Marie feels she'll give birth soon, so she tries to wake up Paul. During this scene she moves in a way which is impossible for a woman in her state of pregnancy.
I gave my son his father's name. If someone up there counts souls, then we're even.
Not a Harlequin style romance.
Before I comment on this film two introductory remarks are necessary. (1) I
recommend anyone who is aware of the way in which it was panned by the
critics ("puerile self conscious euro-trash", etc) to forget these reviews.
I believe it is an unusually rewarding work to see. (2) The title is very
misleading, just reading it one cannot be aware of the irony with which it
must have been chosen, and anyone expecting to see the film equivalent of a
Harlequin novel needs to be warned in advance.
The story is of a young women who loves her very unresponsive husband, but
finds the dissatisfaction she feels from her rare and unfulfilling
copulation with him drives her into a series of increasingly destructive
extra-marital relationships. These are very graphically portrayed, although
she struggles to keep her marriage intact. To me this is perhaps the most
unsatisfying aspect of the film – today I would have expected that such a
marriage would have broken up very quickly and the woman involved would have
felt free to look for a more fulfilling relationship. However many films and
novels are based on the theme of women who accept either indifference or a
great deal of both physical and mental abuse from partners that they love,
and I must accept that this is an important theme for a film.
Although the story is far from new, it is handled here with unusual
sensitivity and understanding. Some of the sex scenes would normally only be
seen in a hardcore porn film and this appears to be what has upset most of
the critics, but I cannot go along with this as a valid criticism. Why
should films exploiting torture, death and destruction be accepted as
mainstream, whilst those dealing with the personal relationships so vital to
living a fulfilling life become subject to censorship? However it is
important to warn anyone considering viewing this film that although it
contains a great deal of graphic sexual activity it is never erotic.These
scenes (even those between the young woman and her husband with whom she is
certainly in love) uniformly show cold mechanical and meaningless
relationships which are ultimately self destructive. They concentrate on the
emotions of the woman concerned and, since she is largely passive in most of
them, and can often only convey the story through her facial expressions,
such scenes require both a very fine actress and a very sensitive director
in order to succeed. In my opinion this film provides both. It could
probably only have been directed by a woman, and one can sense the
determination of both the director and the lead actress to draw viewers of
both sex into the story so that they are not merely voyeurs, but are forced
to consider its relevance both to their own lives and to those of their
Ultimately the ending of a film of this type can make or mar it. Both a
happy and a totally tragic ending for what is intended to be a look at the
lives of quiet desperation lived by many women would be inappropriate.
Instead the director has taken our understanding of her main character
further forward by showing us that for many such women their ultimate
satisfaction comes from their children rather than from their life
It is a mark of a successful film when graphic images from it keep coming
back to mind long afterwards, particularly when these images force one to
consider whether there are lessons in it applicable to ones own life. I
believe this would be the experience of most of those who see this film
Although I would NOT recommended it as either a skin flick or an erotic film
for a couple to watch together in the bedroom, I have no hesitation in
recommending it strongly to all those who adequately appreciate what they
can expect from it.