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:: UNE LIAISON PORNOGRAPHIQUE

With a visible cast of just two, this is a fantastically simple film. The grandness of the film means that the characters are un-named. With all this, and powerful techniques, director Frederic Fonteyne manages to captivate the audience for the entire running length. The plot is bare-boned. The woman (Nathalie Baye) is looking for a male partner to perform a very specific and unusual sexual act, and advertises this fact. The man (Sergi Lopez) replies. It reaches the point where, all too obvious after further meetings, the pair fall in love. From pure sex, it reaches the stage where the man expands the parameters of the relationship to include a drink and a chat. The pair don’t even know each other’s names. Could this relationship survive?
The director sustains interest, even though much could be gauged from the first ten minutes. He never really discloses, or hints at, the nature of their shared fantasy. That air of mystery is heightened by the fact that their backgrounds remain a secret. In the closing credits they are simply known as lui (him) and elle (her). The honesty of the writing is matched by the honesty of the two acting performances. The subtlety and grace of Nathalie Baye is obvious and good reason for her best actress award at the last Venice Film Festival. There is great chemistry between her and Catalan actor Sergi Lopez. Also, it’s amazing, for the uncomfortable ending, to see how much these two characters smile.

“Une Liaison Pornographique” is intriguing. The cast and crew bring an intelligence and maturity on their exploration of the themes - the forming and nature of close relationships, and the fear of commitment. It might be too perfectly plotted for some, but its artistic value is strong.