Une Liaison Pornographique 1999

French translation: A pornographic affair.  English movie title: An Affair of Love. This is one of my favorite French movies.

One of the things I love about French films is that they make a lot of romantic films for women over thirty-five. Most romantic movies in the states are generally romantic comedies featuring a mostly twenty to early thirty–something cast. There have been a few gems like my absolute favorite Something’s Gotta Give with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicolson and I think as more Hollywood headliners age we’ll see more movies for my demographic. Old as shit.

Despite the French title this is a fine romantic film about two un-named characters recounting an affair via an interview. There is no pornography, at least none that the viewers see anyway but the slow burning fire of a growing attraction.

Nathalie Bayes character places an ad for a particular sexual act she wants to try. She never felt comfortable asking any of her committed partners to engage with her in this act, so now that she is single she feels she can try it with a stranger, only in the movies, right? Sergi Lopez answers her ad and they meet at a café. If you ever saw With a Friend like Harry, you may think this is going to turn out pretty bad. Psychotic characters are hard to forget. But Sergi is charming and sexy in the role. I, along with Nathalie’s character fall in love with his quiet sex appeal.

After meeting they both agree there is an initial attraction and walk to a nearby hotel. A red door opens and the two of them hesitantly step inside for their tryst and we are not privy to what goes on inside. We never know what the sexual act, its their secret and they teasingly joke with the interviewer about it but never give details.  The following weeks they meet, they chat, and then off to their hotel room. Then it changes. He no longer looks at her like a stranger. His eyes are soft and you can see he wants more than just an afternoon tryst with her. You see and feel a budding friendship/sexual attraction emerging between them. She smiles at him differently than she did when they first met, she gets excited as he approaches her table but tries to act so cool about it. It is all very subtle, seductive and playful.  He breaks from routine and asks her out to dinner. She hesitates but accepts. During dinner she asks if they could try something different their next meeting. She wants him to have regular sex with her. I’m still dying at this point to know what the heck they are doing that is not normal sex.  Ce la vie 

We witness their first ‘lovemaking’ and I as a viewer are rooting like crazy for them.

Neither are married or tangled in any attachments yet they resist each other believing that the other may actually feel something. She vows to tell him how much she has grown to love him. She recites this wonderful speech in her head about taking a chance on love. In his head he vows to tell her how much she means to him and how he wants to move forward with her. So, how the hell do they not end up together? That is what I hate about French films, unhappy endings. It did not end the way I wanted it but I really enjoyed it the whole way through.

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