Writer/director Catherine Breillat takes audiences deep through the dark side of intimacy with her gritty 1999 French drama, Romance. Caroline Ducey plays Marie, a woman unhappy in a relationship, who seeks satisfaction and fulfilment elsewhere. However, she discovers that this much harder to find than she ever imagined.
Breillat’s controversial film pulls no punches and Romance isn’t an easy film to view. The ironic title will surely lure many unsuspecting viewers into watching it, and that’s likely Breillet’s cruel intention. The whole enterprise is designed to shock and you’ll likely question the reason behind it, but that’s not to say that the film is poorly made. Romance is well a well constructed piece, and Caroline Bucey gives a fearless performance, fully committing to her role. However, the film is very clinical and Briellet creates a detachment between the audience and what is happening on screen. But when does a film cross the line between entertainment and art? Romance surely fits into the latter category and it feels more like an exercise in boundary pushing than an attempt to tell a cohesive story. Having said that, sometimes that’s what a film needs to do: challenge audiences and deliver something that’s not set within the confines of what we expect.
Romance is shocking and it’s designed to make its audience feel uncomfortable. Catherine Breillat delivers a clinical film, which is razor sharp in precision and it’s Kubrick-like coldness. Caroline Ducey goes all-out in a performance that shows total commitment to the role and to Breillet’s script and story. Romance blurs the line between art, entertainment and reality, offering-up a complex view of modern relationships. It’s not necessarily enjoyable, but it it’s very thought-provoking.