All True Artists Are Hated: The Transgressions of Catherine Breillat
New Restoration

An intelligent, radical film.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Catherine Breillat’s incendiary breakthrough, by Film Comments estimation the most sexually explicit mainstream movie ever made,” was a molotov cocktail of controversy and harbinger of an onslaught of unsimulated-sex films in the aughts. A work very much about (and not just featuring) sex, Romance keeps its storyline spartan, allowing ideas and graphic—but never pornographic—imagery to rule the proceedings. It chronicles, at an almost clinical remove, the sexual odyssey of Marie (Caroline Ducey), an elementary school teacher whose boyfriend’s refusal to sleep with her commences a retaliatory cycle of limit-pushing intimacy with other men (Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi included). The firestorm of scandal surrounding the film’s hard-core elements sold the picture as arthouse porn” but obfuscated its radical intellect and intent. Its discourse on female debasement and internalized sexual shame, a throughline in Breillat’s work, is as provocative as anything performed onscreen.

In French with English subtitles

Advisory: Romance contains a scene of sexual violence.

Romance addresses its audience not as a sex film but as an intellectual artifact about sex … Original and emotionally powerful … Fascinating and disturbing.”

Ginette Vincendeau, Sight and Sound
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