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LIAISON PORNOGRAPHIQUE, UNE

SYNOPSIS:
A woman (Nathalie Baye) and a man (Sergi Lopez) recount to an unseen interviewer the details of their liaison, which begins through a personal ad in a magazine purely for the purpose of satisfying the woman's long held sexual fantasy. Their slightly mismatched accounts reveal how the affair developed over subsequent meetings, into something more than simple sex, and what happened then.

"This is an oh-so French (Belgian director with French money, filming in Paris) film about sex, love, relationships and the incredibly complex human condition. The French (also the Belgians) do have a fascination (obsession, even) for the workings of the human heart and its relationship to the sex organs, and Frederic Fonteyne makes much of Philippe Blasband's screenplay, all nuance, suggestion and implied erotica. Implied since we never see the promised fantasy acted out, nor even hear it described. Fonteyne focuses on the impact of such a meeting, and does so in both the present and in flash back, as he presents him and her in front of the investigative camera, as if recording their belated confessions for a doco. If you feel cheated by this and curious as to what sort of sexual fantasy she may have been enjoying, you may find solace in the fact that the affair is full of the eroticisim that comes from keeping hidden what is the object of our desire - tantalisingly close, but still out of reach. But the truth about Une Liaison Pornographique is that it's actually a study of a man and a woman in a sort of limbo, an air-lock relationship where the norms are stripped away. They have sex before they get to know each other, hence the tile, which is a premise used to explore these characters. The fact that they are both middle class, warm, likeable people does not anull the value of the exploration, because it is in the context of French social culture. This film could not work without the most truthful of performances, vulnerable and real and totally devoid of vanity - and the two actors deliver all that. It is a two handed virtuoso acting demo in which we are mesmerised by the intimacy that is played out in an everyday setting."
Andrew L. Urban

"A simple format and stark production design is used to tell perhaps life's most complex story – that of an intimate relationship. Don't let the title mislead you, Une Liaison Pornographique (A Pornographic Affair) is not about pornography, it's really about fantasy. The film takes a relationship and cuts to the chase. Is it any different if sex comes first and the relationship later? This is the question raised in this story about fantasy, discovery and obsession. From the opening scenes of blurred faceless people in a crowed, two people are singled out. We join them (from two different points of view) on their recollection of a fantasy about sex, when the other party is an unknown. As I was watching this fascinating insight that opened doors to emotions and vulnerability, it occurred to me that in many ways a relationship is like music, with the staccatos, accelerandos, legatos, fortes and pianos. The only difference being that the key and time signature are ever changing. We are like a fly on the wall, as we become privy to this very personal of intimate journeys. Both Nathalie Baye and Sergi López deliver fabulous performances and reveal vulnerability as raw as an open wound. Lopez is especially appealing, displaying such awkwardness and discomfort at times that we want to wrap our arms around him. This is a sensual, intoxicating story told with very few story props, its substance is as claustrophobic as the music which engulfs us."
Louise Keller

"It's the oldest, simplest story of them all. A man and a woman meet and fall in love - as simple as that on the surface but with the added mystery of exactly what secret fantasy actually drew them together hovering elusively throughout. The master-stoke in Frederic Fonteyne's beautifully acted character study is that we know nothing about the pre-history of the protagonists played by Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez. Not even their names; they are simply "she" who places an ad in a contact magazine and "he" who replies. Their affair, described in flashback to an unseen interviewer, reveals only what they want revealed and inviting us to compare the subtle discrepancies in the interpretations of both parties. A two-hander talk-fest such as this is a hard act to pull off and here it is done with class on both sides of the camera. The chemistry between Lopez and Baye gives their attraction and subsequent affair instant believability while Fonteyne keeps us at a distance before permitting our entry into the hotel room in which much more than sex takes place. The 'pornography' of the title is not in the actions but in the stripping bare of emotions around an eternal theme. It is crafted with intelligence, humour and above all great love for its subjects and respect for its audience. A quality item not to be missed."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
FREDERIC FONTEYNE

PORNOGRAPHIC AFFAIR (MA)
[Une liaison pornographique]
(France)

CAST: Nathalie Baye, Sergi López, Jacques Viala (voice), Paul Pavel

DIRECTOR: Frédéric Fonteyne

PRODUCERS: Patrick Quinet, Rolf Schmid, Claude Waringo

SCRIPT: Philippe Blasband

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Virginie Saint-Martin

EDITOR: Chantal Hymans

MUSIC: André Dziezuk, Marc Mergen, Jeannot Sanavia

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Veronique Scarez

RUNNING TIME: 80 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: July 13, 2000 (Sydney; Melbourne: July 27)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel

VIDEO RELEASE: April 10, 2001







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