An Affair of Love

People always complain that characters in movies are too shallow. Men and women get together quickly and knock it out for no apparent reason other than to have sex. They don't talk about their feelings, they don't reflect on their relationship. Everything is simple, quick, and over to sate the appetites of the movie-going public. An Affair of Love is for anyone looking for a thoughtful meditation on a relationship. The original French title was Une Liaison Pornagraphique, which, using HARO Online's extensive French abilities, translates roughly as A Pornographic Liaison, not An Affair of Love. Why the title change? Probably to make sure the movie is not mistaken for something else. Too bad the new title does not fit the movie at all.

An Affair of Love is about pornography, though not in the graphic sense. It is about two people who get together purely for anonymous sex, and little else. There is no real element of love in their relationship, just lust. In fact, their names do not even matter. They are simply Her (Nathalie Baye, The Return of Martin Guerre) and Him (Sergei Lopez, Western). They meet through a singles ad with the intention of consummating some sexual act. What act? Director Frederique Fonteyne and writer Phillipe Blasband never reveal it. The first few times they meet, the camera discreetly stays outside the hotel room, focused on the door. Only after their lovemaking becomes more conventional does the camera enter the hotel room. Fonteyne also gives An Affair of Love a documentary-like feel. Interspersed between the torrid affair are interviews with Him and Her, each reminiscing on their relationship.

The interviews are what set the movie ahead of the pack. Both people try to analyze the relationship from their own point of view. When they meet, both initially agree to not to reveal anything personal. Their meetings are awkward and touching at the same time. They soon develop an infatuation with each other that both mistake for love. It is the infatuation that rises at the beginning of relationships, and is more a love for the idea of a relationship rather than a person.

Baye and Lopez give intense performances. Their meetings begin with hesitation, but soon they look forward to their weekly trysts. The true emotion emerges during the interviews. They speak openly about their feelings, holding back nothing from the interviewer except for their initial act. This restraint gives them humanity. Their act was so personal that revealing it is an intrusion on their lives. There is not that much sex in the movie. Fonteyne relies on the strength of Baye and Lopez's frank and honest portrayals. Dialogue and feeling are what drives An Affair of Love, not sex and violence. It takes a lot for a movie to engross a view so, and even more when the main thing used to captivate someone to a screen is words.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 40 minutes, French with English subtitles, Rated R for strong sexual content.

Back to Movies