Une Liaison Pornographique
A Pornographic Affair. A film by the Belgian director Frederic Fonteyne.
First film since I’ve come to Australia that made sense and exercised the cognitive part of the brain, instead of just the part that numbs you and forces you to become an automaton to survive till the end.
The film raises many interesting issues. If one meets through sex, is a relationship easier because of the lack of any extended mind games, seduction, foreplay, double entendres? What is beauty? What is love? Is the best sex what is subliminally repulsive?
The most compelling declaration of love I have seen on screen is made by the female protagonist (nameless in the film, as is the male), whose description of love as something that sometime borders the vulgar, the illegal and yet, irascibly throbbing until you cannot hold back from saying it, even in the face of rejection. The intensity and insecurity of saying ‘I love you’ for the first time. The babbling. The unthinking gestures that make us all children once more.
The aching emptiness experienced by the characters in the movie, of not knowing what to feel and say at the end of random meetings, are echoes of real life, where the one thing you want to say is the one thing that cannot be articulated.
And the unkindest cut is the falsity of one’s ability to read another – the film’s denouement is a wonderful exposition of the cruel twists of fate or the reality of life, depending on which way you want to look at it.
Osmosis. The perfect orgasm. Love. The rarity of that je ne sais quais which lies at the heart of love is the essence of this movie, which eschews traditional images of on-screen sex and yet depicts an eroticism and deep humaneness that is remarkable for the ripples it generates in one’s own memories of love that was found.
And love that was lost.
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