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Damage More at IMDbPro »

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228 out of 242 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant but misunderstood film

Author: theodarsey from San Francisco, CA
13 January 2004

I'm mainly posting this because I've been reading the other comments here, and I just had to respond. While a movie's quality is (for the most part) subjective and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, I must say that those who thoroughly panned this movie have really demonstrated how little imagination most people have, and their lack of appreciation for subtlety in film or any other artistic medium is readily apparent.

For all the talk about the sex scenes in this movie and how they're laughable, or not erotic or whatever, no one is getting the point: the sex between Irons and Binoche is not there just to get the audience all hot and bothered. You have to look at it within the context of the story: these two people are not just out to get laid, to satisfy some momentary sexual whim. They didn't say, Oh, hey, you look hot, I'd sure like to bang you. From the moment they meet they are both captive to an overwhelming, inexplicable passion, due to deep-seated, subconscious motivations stemming from each person's individual history and emotional nature. It's fairly clear from the mostly silent, often awkward, and sometimes almost painful-looking sex that they are not in it for the sheer physical sensation, or even to show affection/love for each other. They simply can't help themselves. Through sex with each other they appear to be working out their own individual pain, a sense of loss or longing for something they are unable to express any other way, and the physical act is almost incidental. Whether they betray or hurt anyone else is beside the point. Each is damaged, and this is how they attempt to repair that damage, but it's a hopeless cause. This is why the sex comes off for the most part as passionless, futile, and far from pleasurable. These are not happy, normal people--they cannot experience much real pleasure the way the average person does. The sex, in service to the story and the characters, is portrayed just as it should be.

'Damage' a terrible film with bad acting? Nonsense. Even if you don't like it, i.e., it's just not to your taste, it's really impossible to deny that this movie is well done in every respect, and when it comes down to it, that is the only real criterion for judging the merit of any work of art. Did all the elements of the movie work to get across what the filmmaker was trying to do? Absolutely. Most people seem to be judging this movie based on their own petty, immature biases developed over years of watching empty, brainless, formula movies: do I like this actor's voice or looks; am I turned on by this actress's body; are these people and the things they do and say close enough to my own ideas about what people are like and how they should behave; does this movie let me remain in my safe, shallow, ignorant bubble of conformity and enjoy my microwave popcorn on the couch? I'm also amazed when people talk about how there are no characters to 'like' in a movie. Who cares? This should not be the point of any work of art. Life does not always present us with likable people, and neither does art. Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche and Miranda Richardson are all superb. Richardson's intensity is mesmerizing, and Irons and Binoche communicate incredible depths to each other and the audience with the smallest gesture or a seemingly pedestrian line, proving that less is almost always more. Watch Irons early on as he portrays his character's quiet sense of desperation and yearning to break out of his comfortable but dead existence, as though all his life he's been out of place, wondering how he got there but unable to articulate it. Binoche has few lines most of the time but doesn't need them: she shows convincingly with her face and movements an entire world of desolation and pain in Anna, along with the fierce drive she carries to maintain some semblance of hope in her life. This is all also due of course to the script and the direction. Besides all this it's also an incredibly stylish and gorgeous movie to look at. I don't know how anyone with any imagination or perceptiveness could find this movie boring or badly done. All in all, I highly recommend this film for a mature, sensitive, and powerful look at human relations and behavior. It's almost mythic in its ability to convey a sense of inevitability and emotional devastation. Brilliant, and hard to forget.

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63 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Very Good Human Drama

Author: David Watts from London, England
4 July 2004

I don't know. I have read some of the reviews here and some literate folk seem to me to want to wax lyrical about vapor. Meaning, sometimes people get a kick out of writing silly things.

If this is the worse movie anyone has seen, then they've not seen many movies. I'm not saying it is for everyone, it's a long key affair, where everything is below the surface (which is actually referenced in the film over a dinner table scene) until finally it breaks free with horrendous results.

Four great performances, Irons is brilliant as a man with great self-control who finds himself for the first time ever, obsessed. Richardson who nearly steals the entire film with a single scene near the end - writing years of personal grief across her face in bruises. Binoche who knows where safe harbor lies (with Peter) who cannot avoid destroying peoples lives. Graves as the ineffectual son, who knows he's in love with a woman in pain, but does not yet know how it will manifest itself.

It's a good film. Beware of anyone who goes to extremes to say otherwise. It's not an easy film to ridicule. (ps. I watched the R2 DVD, it's an awful presentation - AVOID).

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53 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

what happens when you don't wear underwear

8/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
27 December 2007

Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche do some "Damage" in this 1992 film also starring Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, Ian Bannen and Leslie Caron. Irons is a British cabinet minister who falls for his son's girlfriend (Binoche), a deeply disturbed young woman.

Despite the facetiousness of my summary line, this is quite a brilliant film about emotionally damaged people and obsession. It also comes off as very realistic because the emotions are portrayed so honestly. On the surface, it seems ridiculous, sort of a sex-change version of The Graduate, with Binoche involved with both father and son. Here is the Irons character, Dr. Stephen Fleming, with a brilliant career, a beautiful wife (Richardson) whose father (Bannen) has had a brilliant career; they have two children and a lovely home and lifestyle. Why threaten it with a tawdry affair? I kept thinking what an idiot Irons was throughout the film, yet we know that in real life, people have played Russian roulette with their careers before.

It's clear when Anna seeks out Stephen and introduces herself that her attachment to Martyn (Graves) was simply to get to him - and she does -immediately. All they can do is stare at one another. When she invites him to her apartment, she is sitting on the edge of her bed. Seeing him, she sinks to the floor, her arms outstretched. Because she never wears underwear, they can usually have sex with most of their clothes on and have it anywhere - street corners, tables, Stephen's father-in-law's house. The sex isn't particularly erotic to watch; it's awkward-looking because of the frenzy involved.

Part of the obsession for Stephen is the unleashing of passion that's been sublimated; part of it is the danger - and is part of it having something he didn't have in his own youth that his son has now? Does he look at Martyn and see that Martyn's life is ahead of him and that he, Stephen, is no longer "young?" Possible. Is he angry with Martyn for replacing him in his wife's affections? Perhaps. For Anna, the motives and thrills are different - due to a tragedy in her life involving her brother who apparently was in love with her too, she is playing some weird psychological game in which there is no real winner.

The acting is marvelous - Binoche is exquisitely dressed though some of those marvelous clothes are ripped off of her - she brings an exotic, androgynous and mysterious quality to the role of Anna. Irons is excellent as an up-tight father and half-crazed lover. Leslie Caron has a small role as Anna's mother. She's lovely as ever and strong in a dramatic role of a woman who drinks a little but who nevertheless has Stephen's number.

The last 30 minutes of this movie are some of the most shattering moments in film, and what makes them so shattering is not only the situation but the absolutely devastating, visceral, no holds barred performance by Miranda Richardson. She is ably supported by a writer and director who both knew something about profound pain. Her performance is great - that she had the material to give that performance and a director who let her go makes this film truly unforgettable.

When Damage is over, you won't be the person you were when you started watching it. It's so rare nowadays to see such a fascinating, character-driven film. It will stay with you for a long time.

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38 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating

Author: paulvdree (paulvdree@hotmail.com) from Zutphen, Netherlands
3 September 2004

This movie is really much less shallow than many people criticizing it would think. Actually, I was captivated by it from start to finish. It is understandable that one would question the likeliness of all these events happening, and in that respect the characters might be a bit unreal. But I don't think the movie should be watched that way. The sheer unreasonable passion between Anna and Stephen should be felt, not analyzed. I think that a lot of people wished that they would or could feel something like this for another in today's harsh, business-like world. It is always an easy way out to be cynical about it. Although the characters and their relationships are not very "deep", I found everything entirely believable, and that is the only thing that counts.

I did not really ever see an entire movie with Binoche or Irons, and I wonder how they managed to slip through for so long, because I loved them both. Funny how one commentator remarked that the Anna character should have been sleazier for credibility. Don't you see that this all about self-destruction? The tiny, innocuous-looking Anna that Binoche portrays, a girl that most people wouldn't give a second look, a girl that might seem cold at first sight, is just what attracts Stephen, because they both find in each other what they have never found in anyone else. Both characters are on a mission to make their lives more miserable, because that it what defines them. This certainly goes for Anna, but Stephen is even more interesting because his life is so well organized. Anna is just a catalyst for everything he probably wanted to happen one way or another, and that is why he will not stop their "collision course" when he still can. The inevitability of it all shows best at the end: he shows no remorse, or any other emotion, just acceptation. He was subconsciously wanting to put and end to the life he had been living so far. This is also a feeling that many people can relate to, I think. Yes, the end is a bit theatrical maybe, but it didn't bother me. I'd watch it again next week.

Great movie. **** out of ****.

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29 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

If I was on a deserted island with only 1 movie...

Author: Shelley A. Leedahl (shelleyannleedahl@home.com) from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
5 April 1999

There's a fine line between passion and pain, and no one does either of them better than Jeremy Irons. Obsession is the bottom line here, and anyone who's been there can relate. Nothing else matters, and in this movie, Irons crosses all the lines. His first introduction to Binoche...their first rendezvous...their last ...these are engraved in my memory. Sure rich and beautiful people populate this movie, but the emotional punch it packs is one hundred percent REAL. Miranda Richardson, as the grieving mother, couldn't be better. The haunting photographic image near the end of the movie hit me very hard. A deserted island? And only one movie? Damage. Damage. Damage.

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31 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A Louise Malle masterpiece of unbridled passion!

10/10
Author: yossarian100 from usa
18 February 2004

Fatale (Damage) is one of the most deeply lustful and emotionally charged films I've seen in years, a true Louise Malle masterpiece of unbridled passion. The love scenes are hot, to say the least, and I'll never be able to look at Julliet Binochet again without remembering them. Jeremy Irons does incredible work here and Amanda Richardson, who's part really doesn't require much during most of the movie, actually steals the film with some over the top acting at the end. However, it's Julliet Binochet who anchors this fine movie with her riveting performance and her strong and quite impressive visual presence. I simply couldn't take my eyes off her whenever she was on screen.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

I like this movie.

8/10
Author: mainecoon50 from United States
12 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like this movie, not so much because of its analysis of but because of the directness with which it portrays obsessive behavior and the price it demands. All the action struck me as very immediate and real, not contrived in any degree. We read about such behavior every day, be it the bank teller who embezzles huge sums to feed a crack habit, or the respectable family man who throws everything away on a gamble.

Some, undoubtedly, will be put off by the film's graphic sexuality. But I'm one who regards all human activity as some form of sexual expression. To me the sexuality was simply a medium. The drives, the betrayals, the lies, and the ultimate tragedy were the real story.

I also regard Anna as a tragic character, not self-indulgent or spoiled. Watching her play out the drama with Stephen is like watching Greek tragedy. She knows what's coming, but it has to be, and she really can do nothing to stop it. And when the story comes to it's resolution I pity her. She knows the damage she's done, and now she has to go on and repeat the tragedy. And it all stems from her sense of original sin with her brother.

There's a parallel here with Brenda and her brother in HBO's Six Feet Under.

I also like the fact the it ends with more questions than answers. When Stephen is talking to the detective following the death of his son the man asks, "And your son didn't know about your affair?" Stephen shakes his head matter-of-factly. The detective responds, "Are you sure?" For just a moment the camera makes it evident that, no, Stephen is not sure. And as he regards the photograph at the end, what is it he's searching for in those faces? His son looking at Anna, he looking at his son, and Anna looking straight at the camera.

Truly an interesting and stylish drama of human relationships that could be quite immediate, quite real.

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30 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Satire

Author: anonymous from Los Angeles
12 January 1999

For this viewer, this was a brilliant satire of the type of self-important love stories that always leave us little people feeling somewhat unworthy. Usually the "star-crossed" lovers are celebrated (Doctor Zhivago, The English Patient), but here they are shown to be what they really are - selfish, shallow morons, callously destroying all that surrounds them in the name of their "special" love. Excellent!

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30 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Binoche is the ultimate home wrecker, and much more culpable than Irons

Author: djexplorer from Manhattan
15 March 2001

What I find interesting about the prior reviewer is that he could only comment upon the sleaziness of the Jeremy Irons characters. I fully expected to see that in most reviews. It is also most unbalanced, in the manner of the sex role ideologies of the 90's and the oughts.

For any not submerged in feminist victimization ideology, or an exaggerated gallantry, but who can view the situation with a modicum of gender neutrality, the Binoche character is far more culpable than the Irons character. She is no ingenue. Her character must be around 30, and a very worldly 30 plus at that (although she looks 35 plus) -- to his perhaps 45. She plots from moment one to seduce her boyfriend's father, not long after she has hooked up with the boyfriend. She does succeed soon enough, which does him no credit. But he believes she is just one more of a long line of his son's very temporary, and not particularly involved sexual relationships -- and he exudes an obviously sexual loneliness. The Irons and Binoche characters have a very torrid, and mildly S&M, relationship. All along he is obviously conflicted and very uncomfortable that she continue the relationship with both of them. Midway, he wants to leave his wife, make an honest (if marriage destroying) breast of it, and be with her alone. Binoche wants no such thing. She wants both father and son.

What is really maximally warped is Brioche's continued pursuit of the father after the son has proposed marriage, after she has accepted, and after Irons tells her with obvious anguish, but apparent sincerity, that he has decided that he has to break it off, and is breaking it off. It is not a mixed message. He even makes a non-revelatory, but symbolic and emotionally communicative visit to his son in his new, early achieved job as assistant political editor at a tony London newspaper. But Brioche relentlessly pursues him, and lures him back again -- while she is in the midst of planning the wedding.

Further, she spares not a single thought for his public career -- despite the fact that he is a British cabinet minister - or perhaps it is an assistant minister. (She works in a high end antiques establishment).

Sure, she has her troubled childhood history. But even there it isn't clear whether she is more victim, or manipulator. Certainly she was not the most ultimate victim earlier, either. As well, the Irons character, for all his public success, also obviously has emotional issues. They are familiar ones -- a reasonably pleasant, but passionless marriage, a midlife crisis, and a general sense, reflected by his children, that his greatest failing in life is not letting himself go more, not living with more passion. He at least makes some efforts to control himself, and to distance himself after her intentions to commit herself (at least publicly) to his son become clear -- while she does not -- at all.

He of course ends up far more damaged by her than the other way around. She it would seem entered damaged, and left with the pattern just more confirmed.

And yet as I expected, and have so far seen, the currently prevailing impulse is to almost exclusively blame the He -- regardless. Hogwash. Brioche is the ultimate home wrecker.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

great movie...?

5/10
Author: frauna from United States
19 May 2009

After all comments I already read here, I am kind of confused. My opinion? Good script, good casting, beautiful people, carefully made movie, but for some reason, not quite convincing. Binoche and Irons became lovers and they are living a completely forbidden passion, a passion so violent and complete that they risk everything around them (specially Irons). But their performances are so rigid, so empty of life and (precisely) passion...!! I've seen people greeting friends at a birthday party with more enthusiasm and sparks in their eyes that Binoche and Irons meeting to have sex in a secret apartment. They both look like they were in drugs, and the boyfriend/son who does not know anything... well, my cat is a better actor when he wants food. One thing is that some people is not running around crying aloud when they are in love, and another thing is acting a love scene like you are thinking of you are out of milk and have to go to the supermarket.

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