119 Min | Drama – Romance | July 2001
IMDB Rating: 6.3
Director: Patrice Chereau
Starring: Mark Rylance, Kerry Fox, Susannah Harker
Intimacy Review: “Intimacy” is a very contemporary take on the Brit classic “Brief Encounter,” told mostly forward chronologically but backwards (with some confusion as to what’s a flashback) in how the characters are revealed and relate to each other from grunting physical sex. By a French director with the naturalistic improv feel of a Mike Leigh film (including a regular actor from that repertory, Timothy Spall), inspired by a notorious semi-autobiographical short story by the author of “My Beautiful Laundrette,” it certainly feels more French than British and I wouldn’t have minded some sub-titles for when the working class mates get together.
“Intimacy” is very full frontal frank, to the point that it caused quite a brouhaha in the British press over a scene where the lead actress (Kerry Fox) performs a blow job on the lead actor (Mark Rylance). As it happens, her significant other, and father of her baby, is a writer with “The Prospect” who wrote up his reactions, prompting a film critic’s response on reel vs. real love-making. Here, unlike the usual frisky sexual encounter movies about twenty-somethings, what makes this movie so powerful rather than voyeuristic is the mature theater actors playing experienced grown-ups with individual histories. The actress makes a point to go to interviews about the film accompanied by her nursing infant and babysitting mother and the images in the movie of trusting children are effective counterpoints to their parents’ actions. Significantly, the emotional climax for the characters comes when they are both bundled up in coats.
The point of the friends’ roles are a bit unclear, especially the young, handsome gay confidante who mostly seems to be pitying breeders, but it’s nice to see Marianne Faithful as rooted in reality. In “Intimacy”, the soundtrack pounds out the electronica regrets of the central male character’s former life as a musician, but his existential actions and self-realization are straight out of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.”