"The Doomed Object of Their Desires"
What You Need To Know:
The two appealing leads cannot overcome this movie’s most graphic sex scene, one of only two in the movie, unless you count some passionate kissing and embracing. Also, a sense of doom and regret hangs over the final scenes of AN AFFAIR OF LOVE. Consequently, the movie’s humanist worldview seems imbued with more than a touch of nihilism. True love leads nowhere because human beings are ultimately incapable of really communicating their true feelings and desires, the movie seems to say. The movie also seems to say that uninhibited sexual immorality, with no expectations and demands, can indeed lead to strong bonds of love
(HH, L, V, SSS, NN, A, D, M) Nihilistic humanist worldview of love, sex & romance; 1 strong obscenities, 1 mild obscenity & 0 profanities plus some graphic sexual discussion; no violence really shown, but elderly man collapses from illness & woman mentions suicide of another person; strong depicted sex scene & implied masturbation, plus references to fulfilling a secret sexual fantasy; upper male & female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, woman takes out personal ad for anonymous sex to satisfy a nagging sexual fantasy but finds unrequited love instead.
French filmmakers excel at making romantic dramas about doomed love. In that sense, AN AFFAIR OF LOVE, whose real, slightly misleading title is A PORNOGRAPHIC AFFAIR, is an archetypal French movie. Regrettably, however, the movie adds two scenes of explicit sex and relies on a crude plot device to instigate its story.
That story involves a woman, identified only as Her in the credits, who advertises in a sex magazine for a man to fulfill a nagging sexual fantasy she has. She eventually finds a man to do this with her, and the movie shows separate interviews with the couple after they have gone their separate ways. In the interviews, neither one chooses to reveal what exactly the sexual fantasy is, but it clearly does not involve intercourse.
A couple scenes occur where the two people meet at a café and go to a hotel room, where the camera lingers on the closed door of the room they reserve. Then the couple decides to fornicate, the camera finally enters the room, where viewers are shown a lengthy scene of intercourse with upper male and female nudity. After this explicit scene , their sexual encounters turn into a potent love affair, but a misunderstanding drives them apart.
There are really only two depicted sexual scenes in this movie, the one just mentioned and a scene where the couple sits in a bathtub and the movie implies that the man massages the woman’s body with his toes under the water, out of view. Most of the movie involves the couple talking about their encounters, about men and women in general, about romance, and about their feelings for one another. Some of the discussion is somewhat sexual in nature, particularly during the intercourse scene, where the woman says she likes talking while making love with men. All of the discussion, however, contributes to the depth of the love that develops between the couple.
Thus, AN AFFAIR OF LOVE requires appealing performances by the two stars, Nathalie Baye (THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE) and Sergi Lopez (WESTERN). Both leads carry off the talky bits with extreme ease, and, when they’re not talking about sex, all adult viewers may find the characters interesting, if not enchanting. Consequently, it would have been much better, as far as MOVIEGUIDE®’s standards are concerned, to see these two actors playing romantic lovers in a less explicit movie.
Beyond that, AN AFFAIR OF LOVE has a significant worldview problem. It contends that true love, followed by a faithful marriage, is impossible to maintain. It also contends that, if heterosexual couples just meet each other for discussions followed by uninhibited sex, with no expectations or demands, it would develop not only a better sex life between people but also stronger bonds of love as well. Thus, it becomes clear as the story plays out that an incredibly strong love is growing between these two sexual libertines, but that, despite this, they are still unable to honestly communicate their feelings to one another. In fact, they can’t even tell what the other person is really communicating when they must decide what the future will hold for their relationship. This leads to a sense of doom and regret. Consequently, the movie’s humanist worldview seems imbued with more than a touch of nihilism.
Because of all this, AN AFFAIR OF LOVE unintentionally and indirectly shows that, without the power of God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, love between human beings ultimately becomes an empty affair leading nowhere.