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AN INTIMATE AFFAIR (Une Liaison Pornographique)

By Rich Cline | May 12, 2003

An intriguing conceptual film, “Une Liaison Pornographique” is one of those French romances that has enough subtext to keep us interested, even though we pretty much know where it’s going (it is French, after all!). It’s about a “pornographic liaison” in that the central relationship is just about sex–nameless and anonymous and centred on a shared fantasy. But can it stay that way?
They meet as strangers and we never know any more about them than they share with each other. She (Baye) is looking for someone to fulfil a particular fantasy; he (Lopez) answers her ad in a magazine. And as they tell their story to an interviewer, the little disparities in their accounts don’t seem to matter as the heart of the affair comes out. They both fall in love … but will the nature of their relationship allow them to admit it to each other?
Baye and Lopez bring a natural honesty to their roles, from the initial awkwardness to the strangely open relationship (no sexual tension, since they got that out of the way to begin with), to feelings of love and deep desire that go far beyond their initial fantasy. It’s quite a clever concept, and the script and direction keep it interesting, even as it succumbs to all the tired hallmarks of French romantic cinema, from the aching glances to the internal turmoil to the fatalistic climax. Intriguing and insightful, but not very engaging or moving.

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