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An Affair of Love

All they wanted was some anonymous, no-strings sex. What they got was an absorbing romantic drama.


This French import follows an unnamed 50-ish woman (Nathalie Baye) after she hooks up with a well-mannered playmate (Sergi López) through an ad in an adult magazine. At first, it's enough that their cordial weekly rendezvous lead to good times behind hotel-room doors. But as the bond between them grows, both lovers consider bringing their real feelings out in the open, endangering the delicate arrangement at the core of their relationship.


Making a point of providing no background on the characters' everyday lives, the film relies largely on the attractive presence of its actors to provide an emotional handhold for viewers. French star Baye ("The Return of Martin Guerre"), who won the best-actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her work here, shines with warmth and intelligence in the sort of complex role many Hollywood actresses her age would mortgage their mansions to play. Spain's L¢pez ("Western") is equally compelling as a refreshingly fallible guy whose every semi-confused decision rings true.


Frédéric Fonteyne ("Max and Bobo") coaxes the subtle emotion out of Philippe Blasband's almost painfully intimate script, effectively setting up the piece with framing segments showing the two lovers being interviewed some time after their relationship has ended. The results start out like a tamer version of Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 kinky-sex melodrama "Last Tango in Paris," but before viewers know what is happening Fonteyne's utterly convincing screen people manage to sink their hooks in, and things move toward a potentially heartbreaking conclusion.

Bottom Line

An "Affair" to remember for fans of grown-up French drama.


Starring Nathalie Baye, Sergi Lopez, Paul Pavel and Sylvie van den Elsen.

Directed by Frederic Fonteyne. Produced by Patrick Quinet. Screenplay by Philippe Blasband. Released by Fine Line Features.