Intimacy (18)

Film image
Director
Patrice Chereau
Starring
Kerry Fox

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner16/08/2001

Two stars out of five
Running Time: 119 mins

Already notorious film which breaks startling new ground in its frank and explicit depiction of onscreen sex – powerfully acted, but hampered by severely unlikeable characters, a tedious script and a gradual descent into too much shouting.

Two strangers (Australian actress Kerry Fox –from Shallow Grave- and theatre director Mark Rylance) meet for sex at Rylance's seedy flat. We don't know how they came to arrange it, as they barely speak to each other, but it seems he wasn't really expecting her to come.

Thanks to its shockingly explicit depictions of onscreen sex -including shots of Rylance’s erect penis and a much-heralded fellatio scene- the latest film from French director Patrice Chereau (from a novel and stories by Hanif Kureshi) is almost certain to be a hit, thanks to a superlative publicity campaign.

While undeniably powerful, however, it’s a shame that such taboo-shattering scenes were wasted on such an otherwise tedious and unengaging film.

First things first, however - Kerry Fox and Mark Rylance are Very Brave Actors Indeed. The sex scenes are explicit enough to make you believe they are actually doing it, and the fellatio scene certainly adds to that sense of realism.

The problem is that it’s difficult to see what purpose the explicitness serves, unless it's to say that you can have total carnal knowledge of another human being without ever truly 'getting inside' them, so to speak.

That's not to say the scenes don't work - they are erotic in a 'Blimey, I'm not sure I should be watching this' sort of way, and it's a relief to see sex scenes without the Hollywood-style editing and music.

Unfortunately, when the actors aren’t having sex, the rest of the film is extremely irritating and will sorely test your tolerance for Mark Rylance, and his unplaceable accent.

Also, he plays a thoroughly annoying character, as is gradually revealed through his scenes with Timothy Spall (who thankfully remains clothed throughout).

The main problem, however, is that we never really get to know Fox’s character, and yet we know all about Rylance, who we don't like at all. The only character even remotely likeable is Marianne Faithful, who, sadly, doesn't really have much to do.

To sum up, then, the film is certainly ground-breaking, but not in any way compelling or interesting to watch. That said, Kerry Fox deserves all the acting plaudits she can get for this, though you may feel you’ve seen all you’ll ever want to see of Rylance.

Still, fair play to the film-makers - they've gained instant notoriety and the film will undoubtedly appal the Daily Mail, which is the important thing. Worth seeing for the intellectual equivalent of ‘street cred’ though…

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Content updated: 19/10/2017 19:22

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