7 user 13 critic

Down by Love (2016)

Éperdument (original title)
Based on a true story, the impossible love between a prison director and one of its female inmates.


Pierre Godeau


Pierre Godeau (adaptation), Pierre Godeau (dialogue) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Adèle Exarchopoulos ... Anna Amari
Guillaume Gallienne ... Jean Firmino
Stéphanie Cléau ... Elise Firmino
Aliénor Poisson Aliénor Poisson ... Louise Firmino
Cyrielle Martinez Cyrielle Martinez ... Zoé
Selma Mansouri Selma Mansouri ... Sonia
Sabila Moussadek Sabila Moussadek ... Aïda
Julie Moulier Julie Moulier ... Pilar
Marie Rivière ... La mère d'Anna
Maryline Even Maryline Even ... Co-détenue Fleury
Olivier Foubert Olivier Foubert ... Le prof de français
Marie Berto Marie Berto ... Béatrice
Aude Briant Aude Briant ... Secrétaire Jean
Guillaume Marquet Guillaume Marquet ... Le contrôleur général des prisons
Nade Dieu Nade Dieu ... Capitaine de police


Already incarcerated for four years, the rebellious teenager, Anna Amari, is transferred to a women's correctional facility, where right from the start, she will catch Jean Firmino's eye, the detention centre's director. But even though Jean is over twice Anna's age, in a seemingly good marriage, with a young daughter and a good job, his dangerous and powerful obsession for the sultry inmate will soon drag them both into an all-consuming and passionate love affair. Trapped behind the prison's thick walls, Jean will do everything to snatch a brief moment with the object of his desire, taking incrementally bigger risks despite gossip and consequences. Under those circumstances, is there a future in their reckless affair? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


To Live. To Lose Reason. To Love.


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Anna Amari: So what? Right here, right now, do you want to fuck me? Oh what, you're not gonna answer? I can see your excitement in your pants.
Jean Firmino: I want us to do this right.
Anna Amari: I want you to fuck the shit out of my mouth.
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Written by Iggy Azalea (as I. Azalea), Jon Shave (as J. Shave), Fki 1st (as M. Roberts), Natalie Lauren Sims (as N. Sims), Jason Pebworth (as J. Pebworth), George Astasio (as G. Astasio)
Performed by Iggy Azalea
© Grand Hustle Anthems / Sony / ATV Allegro / Turnfirst Ltd / Sony ATV Music Publishing Ltd / EMI Blackwood music Inc / Smash Digital Lead and Yellow Publishing admininstered by Kobalt Music Publishing
Astasio Music Ltd. - Pebworth Music Ltd.
2013 Virgin EMI Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited
Authorised by EMI Music Publishing France, de Sony ATV Music Publishing France, Kobalt Music Publishing and Universal Music Vision. All rights reserved.
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User Reviews

Hard to believe it's "based on a true story"
15 March 2021 | by jadavixSee all my reviews

"Down by Love" is one of those movies where the one or two-line plot description on IMDB tells you everything that happens in the movie. It holds no surprises whatsoever.

In case you missed that description, the movie is about a "forbidden love affair" between a married warden and a new arrival at his prison, a sultry, enigmatic young woman played by "Blue is the Warmest Colour"'s Adele Exarchopolous.

Yes, you know where this is going right from the first frame: they're going to start having sex, the man will fall in love/become obsessed, he will take bigger risks to see the girl, he'll be found out.

The movie is not a romance, as it might have been, and nor is it an erotic thriller, as it also easily could have been. Therefore with this material we are left only with drama, which indicates the movie will have to play it straight, showing the love affair as a staid sequence of events with a conclusion it doesn't even pretend we can't see coming. It features some rather frank sex scenes, but eroticism is clearly not on the cards for such a serious movie, and these are nothing out of the ordinary for a French flick.

The only thing I didn't expect from "Down by Love" came after I had finished watching it. I went on IMDB to write this review, and I saw that the movie is based on a true story. I never would have guessed that: the completely rote plot developments seems to come out of an outline from "Screenwriting for Dummies". If it's really "based on a true story", the filmmakers needed to study that story more closely. They may have come across details that could have set it apart.

I will finish by saying that there was one example of this lack of truth that I found particularly objectionable, and that is the Adele Exarchopolous character. This characterisation is indeed the stuff of erotic thrillers or softcore porn. She is only present to arouse the warden. We see barely anything of her personality, but plenty of her body; the movie doesn't even explain why she's in jail in the first place! And yet this is based on a true story? Did they just skip the bits with her in it?

This is all the more obvious when one considers that the main actor really doesn't evince much sympathy, and nor does his character generate much interest. It's the female lead that gets us thinking, but she seems to be playing a male fantasy, rather than just inspiring one in the protagonist.

Perhaps the filmmakers were more sympathetic to the warden's story than they wanted us to know?

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France | Belgium



Release Date:

2 March 2016 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Down by Love See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$390, 21 August 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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