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With: Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stevenin, Francois Berleand, Rocco Siffredi
Written by: Catherine Breillat
Directed by: Catherine Breillat
MPAA Rating: R for language and strong sexual content including dialogue (also Unrated)
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: -99
Date: 03/19/2013
IMDB

Romance (1999)

1 Star (out of 4)

Extreme Sex

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Catherine Breillat (36 Fillette) tries to bridge the gap between mainstream films and porno films with Romance but this sex story doesn't have the depth to complete the trip. I'm normally open to exploring sexuality in film, and I'm not very squeamish, but Romance tested my patience. (This movie is softcore on the verge of hardcore -- it shows male and female genitalia of all kinds, and simulates sex, but doesn't show penetration.) It stars Caroline Ducey as a woman dating a male model (Sagamore Stevenin) who refuses to sleep with her or even to be touched. In a pale mimicry of Breaking the Waves (1996) she begins to take other lovers and explore more twisted avenues of sexuality, such as being tied up, or being raped in a stairwell. Porno star Rocco Siffredi co-stars in Romance, which is his first straight movie after over 1000 porn films. Romance wavers from being depraved to being just plain pretentious. It's almost a parody of a foreign film like Pedro Almodovar's excellent Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), which is all about sex on the surface, but also explores love and trust issues around its sex story and does so with wisdom and humor. The main problem with this movie is that Ducey's character doesn't have a single moment of self-exploration or discovery that the audience can share. She just makes the sudden jump to extreme sex, and it shocks us.

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