Saturday, 26 April 2014

Intimacy (2001)

Patrice Chéreau's film Intimacy from 2001 is a loose adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's  semi-autobiographical novel of the same name which explored the dilemmas and cowardice of a middle aged man leaving his wife and children to great controversial acclaim. The film, uses the crux of the novel as a springboard into a story about the man post-walk out, and how he begins a weekly affair with a stranger. It aims for even further controversy by depicting the frequent sex scenes between his actors, Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox, completely unsimulated.

What is it about real sex in a film that feels utterly shocking, striking disorientating and discordant in a way that porn does not?

It's just really hard to bring together in one's mind the famous faces, the narrative and the genitalia all at the same time I guess!

Much of Chéreau's film concerns anonymity and the way that living in a big sprawling city like London can offer us such a blessing and a curse. To that end its a great metropolis film, mixing the French extremes of the auteur with a strong sense of the capital, though it does walk a fine line, occasionally veering towards extreme pretension and ultimately I can't help but think how much cultural currency this film would have if the sex scenes weren't genuine. 

The cast is excellent - especially when they are allowed to actually act and not rut naked upon the squalid floor - with Timothy Spall also impressing as the cuckolded cab driving husband (Spall seems to have carved out a niche in playing cabbies; this, All or Nothing and The Street on TV) though the legandary Marianne Faithful strikes an odd and isolated note in the proceedings. Overall it's an impressive feat that the cast do actually impress, given that no character - certainly not the leads - is really truly likeable in the least.

Perhaps I need to watch it a couple more times to get a better understanding of what I actually feel about the film, but already I know some scenes and the overall atmosphere of the piece will stay with me for some time. 

And if anyone has ever wanted to see Mark Rylance's cock in various states of arousal, as well as with Kerry Fox's lips around it, well this is the film for you...

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