A failed London musician meets once a week with a woman for a series of intense sexual encounters to get away from the realities of life. But when he begins inquiring about her, it puts their relationship at risk.
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Jay, a failed musician, walked out of his family and now earns a living as head bartender in a trendy London pub. Every Wednesday afternoon a woman comes to his house for graphic, almost wordless, sex. One day Jay follows her and finds out about the rest of her life (and that her name is Claire). This eventually disrupts their relationship. Written by
The first mainstream English language film with an unsimulated sex scene to be passed uncut in Great Britain. See more »
You know when you're with someone there's only a very short time when you can really give each other things for free... with neither of you having to ask. Because later on all you do is make demands of each other. Perhaps the only difference between her and all the rest is that she's asking you for nothing.
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INTIMACY is a demanding film. It attempts a very close look at human relations, first at their most basic and physical, then at their most nakedly emotional. The film is demanding also because of its blend of present time and flashback, and a because of a few frankly muddled scenes. It is a clear candidate for re-viewing.
While Claire (Kerry Fox) is given her full due as a character, this is, in the final analysis, the man's story. Claire has denied herself physical pleasures in favor of what appears to be a contented family life. She has a devoted, if obese, husband and a son, whose own lives seem like satellites of hers. While she 'acts out' emotion on a small, amateur stage, they wait in the wings, encouraging her. She seeks out her liaisons with the glumly attractive Jay (Mark Rylance) for the very reason that they must remain anonymous. She, probably erroneously, wants to put intimacy into her life through sex, but she does not want to replace her life with it.
For the even less happy Jay, things are drastically different. He has suffered in a seemingly loveless marriage. There are two sons to whom he is clearly a loving father. But there is a sense that real intimacy has escaped him. Sometime before the narrative begins, Jay enters into an affair with Claire strictly, at first, for physical reasons--their encounters are essentially silent, physically intimate, but devoid of true intimacy. His need for connection is seen in the strange scenes of confiding in friends whom he otherwise holds in contempt. To his friends, Jay repeatedly bemoans his impatience to end the liaison. Yet, one Wednesday when Claire does not show up, he is forced to confront actual feelings. Gradually, Jay comes to realize that he wants much more from this affair. After their next encounter, he begins to follow Claire into her own world. The resulting drama is the main portion of the film.
French director Patrice Chéreau looks upon these characters with a complexity of vision and the candor available to an outsider. He understands both the value and danger of anonymous erotic encounters. Each succeeding sex scene in the film reveals less, physically, and more, emotionally, about the characters. For Jay at least, it is a process of self-revelation. After he enters Claire's world through an acquaintance with her husband, a strong sense of broken taboo, FAR stronger than that of the sexual affair, comes into play. Jay has crossed a boundary and both he and Claire will pay a price for it.
Kerry Fox is alert and brilliantly self-contained as Claire. And Timothy Spall (as her husband) gives a memorably detailed performance. Both must deal with betrayal and pained resignation. While Alistair Galbraith and handsome Philippe Calvario populate Jay's abusive, tortured universe.
But this movie really belongs to Mark Rylance. His characterization of Jay astonishingly combines venemous self-loathing with a profound psychic woundedness. The performance is incomparable in the most literal sense. This is a brand of tortured character we have not seen so nakedly before. Jay's final moments on screen should haunt most viewers long afterward.
INTIMACY is a surprisingly compelling film. Surprising, because a viewer may expect only to be titillated, or perhaps to be bored. This is not a film for everyone, its themes touch on difficult and painful truths about life. Those looking only for entertainment or eroticism will certainly be disappointed. Highly recommended
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