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Libero De Rienzo
Although deeply in love with her boyfriend - and indeed sleeping in the same bed with him - a schoolteacher cannot handle the almost complete lack of intimacy he will allow. Increasingly frustrated, she gradually finds her sexual appetites leading her into ever more risky situations, including a developing one with the headmaster. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
(this is a repost... the other review I posted was somehow missing a part)
In a perfect world, my opinion of ?Romance? would sound more or less like this. This is a fairly interesting film about the crisis in a couple relation that, in some sense, manages to come up with some interesting and quite universal statements about the couple relation qua relation and qua adaptation to a life of routine after the initial sparks. The desire of the woman to test her sexual boundaries should be seen, I believe, in this context, together with the final realization that, after all, even a bondage experience can be as banal and squalid as everyday life. The film is quite typically French: more spoken than physical, with the kind of conversation that French films seem to favor: too intellectual to be spoken by real people in real life, but grounded enough to make you wish that you and your friends could speak like that. It is probably not as good as ?la pianiste? but, then again, not many films are as good as ?la pianiste.? It is, however, an interesting analysis of a situation common to many couples.
This, as I said, in a perfect world. Alas, this is not a perfect world and, somehow, the question of the sexual content of the film managed to dominate the question about its contents. Most of this, I must say, comes from the barbaric and puritan America, my country of adoption. To the more relaxed Europeans, I must point out that this is a country in which, on television, it is normal to see ?reality shows? with murder scenes, car crashes during high speed pursuits, and violent arrests; it is normal to see in prime time films with violent content that glorify the army and the ethos of war. Yet, it is illegal to show a woman?s breast, and curse words that in more liberal countries are considered quite normal are invariably, and audibly, beeped. The sense and the moral choice behind all this escape me, but this is the background that one should have in mind to understand the outrage of some Americans in front of this film.
Outrage which, I must say, is quite misplaced. With the exception of one or two scenes, the sex in the film is not very explicit and, even including the more ?racy? fellatio scenes, it is no more explicit that in Bellocchio?s ?Il Diavolo in Corpo,? which I saw (uncut) on Italian TV (quite late at night, to be honest).
This outrage, however, and the puritanism that generated it, give this film its true significance, beyond the plot and the acting: the reversal of the traditional Hollywoodian standard. The essential fact about this film is that, while sex is depicted with immaculate candor (without, I must add, the lewd and voyeuristic aspects of Hollywood?s depiction), violence is symbolic, hidden from view. The only violent death of the film is in an explosion that we only see from afar in a very sanitized version, the dead body is never shown, and the Fellinesque funeral points to the unreality and the absurdity of the whole occurrence.
If a political message should be derived from this film, is a rejection of a culture that is trying to make sex unacceptable channeling sexual energies into violence, which is so often and so absurdly glorified and depicted into every gory detail. The call for sex versus violence implicit in the editing and the direction of this film is, I will add, a very healthy one.
Not a great film, but a fairly good one. Recommended.
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