IntimacyMarch 28, 2001
A failed London musician meets once a week with a woman for a series of intense sexual encounters to get away from the realities of life. But when he begins inquiring about her, it puts their relationship at risk.
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 6.3/10 (5,762 voted)
Critic's Score: 69/100
Stars: Mark Rylance, Kerry Fox, Susannah Harker
Jay, a failed musician, walked out of his family and now earns a living as head bartender in a trendy London pub. Every Wednesday afternoon a woman comes to his house for graphic, almost wordless, sex. One day Jay follows her and finds out about the rest of her life (and that her name is Claire). This eventually disrupts their relationship.
Writers: Hanif Kureishi, Anne-Louise Trividic
Susan, Jay's wife
Student at the drama school
Pam, girl in squat
(as Vinni Hunter)
Luke, Claire's son
Every Wednesday, She meets once a week.
Release Date: 28 March 2001
Filming Locations: Ealing Studios, Ealing, London, England, UK
Opening Weekend: £54,288
(29 July 2001)
(28 October 2001)
Did You Know?
The first mainstream English language film with unsimulated sex scenes to be passed uncut in Great Britain.
You know when you're with someone there's only a very short time when you can really give each other things for free… with neither of you having to ask. Because later on all you do is make demands of each other. Perhaps the only difference between her and all the rest is that she's asking you for nothing.
INTIMACY is a demanding film. It attempts a very close look at human
relations, first at their most basic and physical, then at their most
nakedly emotional. The film is demanding also because of its blend of
present time and flashback, and a because of a few frankly muddled scenes.
It is a clear candidate for re-viewing.
While Claire (Kerry Fox) is given her full due as a character, this is, in
the final analysis, the man's story. Claire has denied herself physical
pleasures in favor of what appears to be a contented family life. She has a
devoted, if obese, husband and a son, whose own lives seem like satellites
of hers. While she 'acts out' emotion on a small, amateur stage, they wait
in the wings, encouraging her. She seeks out her liaisons with the glumly
attractive Jay (Mark Rylance) for the very reason that they must remain
anonymous. She, probably erroneously, wants to put intimacy into her life
through sex, but she does not want to replace her life with
For the even less happy Jay, things are drastically different. He has
suffered in a seemingly loveless marriage. There are two sons to whom he is
clearly a loving father. But there is a sense that real intimacy has escaped
him. Sometime before the narrative begins, Jay enters into an affair with
Claire strictly, at first, for physical reasons–their encounters are
essentially silent, physically intimate, but devoid of true intimacy. His
need for connection is seen in the strange scenes of confiding in friends
whom he otherwise holds in contempt. To his friends, Jay repeatedly bemoans
his impatience to end the liaison. Yet, one Wednesday when Claire does not
show up, he is forced to confront actual feelings. Gradually, Jay comes to
realize that he wants much more from this affair. After their next
encounter, he begins to follow Claire into her own world. The resulting
drama is the main portion of the film.
French director Patrice Chéreau looks upon these characters with a
complexity of vision and the candor available to an outsider. He understands
both the value and danger of anonymous erotic encounters. Each succeeding
sex scene in the film reveals less, physically, and more, emotionally, about
the characters. For Jay at least, it is a process of self-revelation. After
he enters Claire's world through an acquaintance with her husband, a strong
sense of broken taboo, FAR stronger than that of the sexual affair, comes
into play. Jay has crossed a boundary and both he and Claire will pay a
price for it.
Kerry Fox is alert and brilliantly self-contained as Claire. And Timothy
Spall (as her husband) gives a memorably detailed performance. Both must
deal with betrayal and pained resignation. While Alistair Galbraith and
handsome Philippe Calvario populate Jay's abusive, tortured
But this movie really belongs to Mark Rylance. His characterization of Jay
astonishingly combines venemous self-loathing with a profound psychic
woundedness. The performance is incomparable in the most literal sense. This
is a brand of tortured character we have not seen so nakedly before. Jay's
final moments on screen should haunt most viewers long
INTIMACY is a surprisingly compelling film. Surprising, because a viewer may
expect only to be titillated, or perhaps to be bored. This is not a film for
everyone, its themes touch on difficult and painful truths about life. Those
looking only for entertainment or eroticism will certainly be disappointed.