“Romance” – Chris Luedtke

In the realm of sexual cinema, it is hard to find a solid place away from pornography. My past reviews on films, such as the first two Emmanuelle pieces and Ma Mère, put me into factions of utter shit (Emmanuelle basically being softcore and Ma Mère being a rancid meatball of disgust and obsession). A recent attempt to find someone who can master this subject matter also failed, in the form of A Very Young Girl. But Romance may just be the knife this genre needs to slice through the mold of tits, ass, and filth.

Marie (Caroline Ducey) is a young schoolteacher in France that feels emotionally fulfilled with her boyfriend (Sagamore Stévenin) but is sexually frustrated with him otherwise. His utter lack of physical interest in her throws her into a frenzy of sexual encounters with countless different men. Throughout them, a whole new side to Marie begins to show, as a web of emotions slowly begins to unravel.

I don’t know why I throw myself in to these films, to be honest. The failure rate so far has been almost overwhelming. Nevertheless, Romance has succeeded in all areas where the others have failed miserably. A voice is given to the actions; they aren’t just thrown out there to be lewd, crude, and/or shocking. Marie has a reason and a vision for all she does, and she isn’t afraid to share them with us. This makes the exploits less pornographic. Even when we see full-fledged nudity between the sexes, we don’t feel that they’re naked for the sake of nudity. The raw core of emotions is shown here, and honesty becomes the body of the film.

The story isn’t without its quirks. Sometimes I felt that the film might be repeating itself. A type of “He doesn’t make love to me, so I’ll screw anyone else!” attitude does shine through occasionally. Marie admits to loving sex several times, but it doesn’t become annoying. Rather, it feels like a journey from adolescence into adulthood. The emotions are often mature, but the actions are not.

The thing that threw me for a loop with Romance was the bizarre ending. Let’s just say that it was beyond anything I had expected. It is sudden, odd, and something that might be worth thinking about but not losing sleep over. I can’t even bring myself to say it is satisfying. Does it have closure? Yes, so don’t worry about there being “no true ending”; just be weary of its sudden…approach. If someone were to make a top ten list of the most odd endings ever produced, this one could probably make it.

If you’ve got the time and aren’t a prude, then Romance could well be up your alley. I wouldn’t go out and rent it immediately, because it is certainly not a masterpiece. But Romance is a far cut above the rest for the genre it, so carefully rests itself in.

Rating: ★★★☆

-Chris Luedtke

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