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Intimacy More at IMDbPro »

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88 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

Quote-Unquote Intimacy

Author: mackjay from Out there in the dark
10 January 2004

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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57 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Well Acted Drama

Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
28 June 2003

'Intimacy' is a very well acted drama, set in London. Jay has left his wife and son a year ago, and lives a disordered life, working as a barman, and carrying some ambiguous relationships with a couple of friends. He meets weekly a woman, Claire, with which he has a pure sexual affair, without any communication, a la 'Last Tango in Paris'. Things start to go wrong in this affair, when apparently involved he follows and finds out the background of the woman, and befriends her husband and young son.

The film is not easy, and sometimes the border between complexity and confusion is crossed. However, the acting is so good that the characters are just alive. Life is confusing as well many times, after all.

The film has many explicit sex scenes, and they have their place in the story line. This film is to a big extend about communication, and sex is the main way of communication between Jay and Claire for much of the film. Will this be enough to sustain their relationship? Well, go and see the movie and you will find out.

8/10 on my personal scale.

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52 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

The absence of love

Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
23 January 2004

"Intimacy" tells of a divorced man and a married woman who have weekly loveless sex while each knows little of the other. The film explores the "why" of their peculiar relationship and follows the pair of protags to their inevitable conclusion. Whatever you know, think, or read about this film, it does break new ground as it pushes legitimate cinema one small measure toward its destiny by illuminating that dark corner of human behavior currently occupied only by pornography. Be prepared for graphic sex/nudity and some intensely personal scenes in a stark, austere, somewhat depressing but very courageous drama. Not for prudes, "Intimacy" will be most enjoyed by mature drama enthusiasts. (B)

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45 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Harrowing but well worth watching

Author: rickgordonuk from London, England
11 April 2001

I just saw this film in Paris, mainly attracted to it by Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox, who are consistently terrific actors.

Looking at the other comments issued so far, I guess that most of the attention given the film will be on the graphic sex scenes, but in general they contributed well to the overall story of lost people looking for some connection in their lives, which in a city like London (as it is filmed) seems impossible. Still, I have no idea how a sexually repressed country like Britain will pass this film without cuts. It will be intriguing to see the infantile controversy that this film will ignite in the media when it plays here.

I wouldn't recommend this film for those who are used to fast-paced stories and quick-fire dialogue. I never found the pacing too slow but you have to watch everything carefully to feel the full impact of the movie.

If you have ever had a passionate but ultimately painful affair, this film will throw up all those feelings that you thought you had forgotten.

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34 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Refreshingly candid insight into the complexity of human relationships

Author: Greg Novik from Vancouver, Canada
11 February 2003

Once in a while you run across a movie that breaks boundaries. This film does that in many ways. If you remember seeing an old David Lean movie called "Brief Encounter", "Intimacy" may remind you of it only this film takes you much farther into the actual affair than many films dare to go. Whoever trains British actors gets my undying admiration. Mark Rylance gives an understated performance that simply thrills a person with its reality. Anyone who knows the work of Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies) will want to see this movie. All of the actors give performances that rate highly with me. Imagine a scene where actors have to pretend that they are in an actors training session and they are supposedly doing improvisation. How would you script this? Could you script this? It's marvelous to watch.

As the plot advances the dialogue is spare. A sign of great film making in my view. The camera work and editing provide the clues as to what is transpiring. At the heart of the movie, the tables turn in an unexpected way that leaves the viewer breathless. You almost have to stop watching to consider all of the implications of what has happened.

Sure there are some strange inexplicable events, but that's life isn't it? So based on boldness, superb acting, amazing realization or direction this film will shock and satisfy, puzzle and pique your interest. One of the greats to emerge from the new realist school of European film making. Along with Romance and Blais Moi. Finally film making that looks at sexuality in an adult way and doesn't get coy when the actual act of sex is depicted. I delight in seeing films that are brave enough to illuminate the act of sex, after all it's what most humans are designed to do.

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31 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Worthwhile exploration of wordless love and loveless words

Author: Geofbob from London, England
6 August 2001

Though it may not achieve all its aims, Patrice Chereau's would-be existentialist drama, adapted from stories by Hanif Kureishi, makes a welcome change from the recent run of London-based thrillers and comedies. Intriguing while it focuses on the obsessive sexual relationship between non-committal Claire (Kerry Fox) and embittered, divorced Jay (Mark Rylance), the film tends to lose its way as more characters and situations are introduced. Shot, with a lot of hand-held camera, in Jay's untidy flat, in crowded bars, and in busy South London streets, about the only visually beautiful frames are those showing Claire's and Jay's intertwined naked bodies, relaxing after their frenzied love-making.

Meeting once a week, and hardly speaking to each other, both Claire and Jay seem to be satisfied with little more than sex; but his curiosity takes over, he begins to follow her, and is resentful and envious when faced with the realisation that she has a life of her own and may simply be using him. The movie explores questions such as - how far can sex alone can take a relationship; and do words add to or detract from love? Another theme is that of role playing, on the stage and in life.

Both Fox and Rylance are superb in their scenes together; and Timothy Spall is excellent as Claire's talkative, down-to-earth husband. But I confess to finding Claire's friend Betty (Marianne Faithfull) a baffling character. Some sequences, particularly those involving Jay's friend Victor (Alastair Galbraith) and gay French barman Ian (Philippe Calvario), seem simply to be padding. Possibly, Chereau felt the need to insert personalities and scenes from Kureishi's books, even though these were not relevant to the central Claire-Jay situation. Finally, yes, the over-hyped explicit sex is necessary for the movie to work.

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30 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Indirect Yet Compelling

Author: Jacob Rosen ( from United States
25 March 2004

Like most films either adapted from Hanif Kureishi's fiction or having screenplays written by him (`My Beautiful Laundrette', `Sammy And Rosie Get Laid' as well as this film, which lists Kureishi as a co-writer along with Anne-Louise Trividic and director Patrice Chereau), `Intimacy' circles its subject in an indirect manner, never declaring what it's truly about but leaving a distinct impression. This can make for difficult viewing, requiring an inordinate amount of concentration to keep up (and which wears you down after a while) and it only sinks in long after it's over. But that's the film's strong point: the writers prefer to have you draw your own conclusions, with dialogue that forces you to read between the lines of an affair in which both participants seem to be using it to address their individual demons. Chereau and Kureishi are more interested in their characters' circumstances than their actions but it's precisely their circumstances that make their actions compelling. Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox are the lovers (and they're excellent, even though the fact their trysts are presented in explicit detail may overshadow their performances), with Rylance as a bitter bartender who has spontaneously abandoned his family and Fox as a drama teacher stifled in her marriage to a cabbie (Mike Leigh favorite Timothy Spall, also very fine) whom Rylance befriends in an attempt to understand her; it's the tensions that build around the trio that drives the narrative. It's an unhappy yet sensitive film that may distance some audiences and push others into uncomfortable areas they may not want to visit, yet there's no denying its inquisitive, intelligent presence.

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25 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Naturalism not hypocrisy

Author: bobocii ( from Michigan, USA
3 December 2001

I've seen this film in USA and the taste that I felt is quite bitter; not because it was a lousy film, per contra, but because of the way that a man and a woman try desperately to escape from a lonely and abortive life, is so vivid and so authentic. I was tempted to catalogue the sex scenes, too daring but let's face it, this is the reality. Like probably Zola would say "naturalism not hypocrisy". If you want to see this film it's better to leave home all your prejudices about how life should be.

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21 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

One for the Film Studies class.

Author: p-braham from England
18 March 2003

A disturbing, theatrical, thought-provoking, difficult-to-watch film which revolves around a sexual relationship between two people who almost never talk to each other. There is passion but no intimacy in this relationship, in fact there is no intimacy between any of the characters in this film. The male character begins to yearn intimacy, but the female character seems content with 'meaningless' sex. Overall the film is a dark and uncomfortable study, well acted but a bit too "arty" for my liking.

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23 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

mixed bag

Author: doug from New York City
27 March 2004

You will very, very rarely see a film with such explicit sex made is L.A. Thats because, since long ago American filmmakers worry tons more about their rating and therefore the box office attendance.

"We better not go too far, we'll loose money" is the bottom line in Hollywood. The raw and and utterly believable sex scenes are the symbol in this independent film for the sincerity and genuine attempt by the filmmakers to tell a story about how people might really behave under certain conditions.

That being said, the story line becomes harder to accept as the plot unfolds. Even tho the acting is superb by every player, the more that happened, the more distanced I became. Conflict between characters and their motivation became just more and more unbelievable, even irritating. You see the writer pushing and pushing the storyline until you don't care about the story anymore, instead of being taken in and moved, as one should be. (In spite of the writing, the film is definitely worth seeing and nevertheless refreshing in the face of Star Vehicle Movies, Action Junk, as well as guarded and censored sex scenes that are the standard fare of Hollywood standards today).

This film was made with the sentiment of "Let's make a good movie, no holds barred, no matter what" instead of "Make a movie about whatever you want, but make sure its a hit at the box office".

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