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"Physical infidelity is the signal, the notice given, that all fidelities are undermined." Katherine Anne Porter
Polyamory is tricky for the best of lovers, so put two couples into mate-swapping, with kids in the mix and professions pushing time limits, and you have a perfectly French sex drama not easy on anyone involved.
Oh, in Four Lovers it's initially easy enough, as attractive as the principals are and as conducive the circumstances: Vincent (Nicolas Duvaunchelle), a blonde boy/man with tattoos and Web designing occupation, connects with Rachel (Marina Fois), a boutique jeweler; her husband, Franck (Roschdy Zem), is a coffee-table erotic book writer/photographer, who through deft massaging connects with Vincent's Teri, a former Olympic gymnast of half American blood. Sensuality abounds through most of the film with no apparent jealousy as everyone knows what's up. Only when the kids need attention or a diary is read does the edginess of this hanky-panky surface. And then it's all still very much subdued. It's unusual not to witness crying and shouting as the inevitable challenges arise. But then it's discomforting not to have discourse among the principals about their infidelities. The film's so cool as to be almost passionless.
Unlike Mike Nichols' Closer, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, which has a similar situation with four acquaintances unfaithful to each other, Closer has a decidedly US/Brit clandestine, guilt cast to it. But it is full of witty dialogue that helps us deconstruct their astonishing selfishness and disregard for feelings.
I had assumed the French Four Lovers approach would be the opposite: open, relaxed, sensitive, sensual, and surviving. I was right: It's a different world from the Catholic one I grew up in, but it seems the same demons show up in different disguises.
Even the French can't find this arrangement tenable over the long haul.
"I don't want to sell myself short. You hurt your spouse, not so much by the infidelity, but by the negative feelings about yourself that you bring home." Michael Zaslow
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