Romance review

The ironically titled Romance engendered controversy in France, triggering heated "art or porn?" debates. Passed un-edited by the BBFC, the film's narrator is the alluring Marie (Ducey), a dyslexic school teacher whose male model boyfriend no longer wants sex. She resolves to continue to love him while sleeping with other men, and embarks on a sexual odyssey - with profound results. Her first pick-up is the extremely well-hung Paolo (Siffredi), swiftly followed by bondage fetishist Robert (Berleand)...

Written and directed by Catherine Breillat, this is an unflinching and undeniably explicit examination of female sexual desire. But, hamstrung by some highly pretentious voice-over dialogue, it's also a cold and disturbing piece of work.

As the woman driven through degrading encounters by sado-masochistic impulses, however, newcomer Ducey's performance is courageous.

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