Communication. Physical love. Emotional love. Perceptions.

Affair of Love is a marvelous 1999 French film from director Frédéric Fonteyne, exploring the modern ailment of male and female sexual interaction and emotional communication through the lives of two characters; HER played by Nathalie Baye (Venus Beauty Institute) and HIM played by Sergi López (With a Friend Like Harry).

Affair of Love

( Une liaison pornographique )

by Frédéric Fonteyne

Review of the film and DVD by Gary W. Tooze



Through the initial and final scenes of Affair of Love, out-of-focus individuals walk in the streets of Paris as if to state that this is but one story of many available, floating in the ether of humanity. We are introduced to two characters, each being interviewed separately about the relationship that they shared. Specifics of their meetings, physical interplay and their eventual break-up detail total inaccuracies from their individual standpoints. As we come to follow the plot, we realize that the specifics are unimportant but the mere fact of the discrepancies is at the heart of the story. This is promoted by being woven discreetly into the dialogue.


The film uses visuals very adeptly and we recognize immediate details that lead to personal conclusions about the characters. The physical appearances from the interviews compared to their past affair are different (dyed hair for HER, beard grown for HIM), possibly indicating a time lag from whence the relationship had occurred, but more likely a helpful lifestyle change to continue on further with their lives, i.e. bypassing a negative life experience with a distinct personal visual adjustment. As the plot develops we soon see that although they enjoy each others company they are different people marking details inherent in common differences between many men and women. They never seem to discuss favorite films, hobbies, interests that would further bind their relationship closer, or perhaps reveal the truth that there is no link, instead they imbue the other with their expectations of what they would expect.

SHE had placed an advertisement for a sexual dalliance to help fulfill a fantasy that she has had for years. HE replies. They meet in a quiet bar/cafe. Harmless and un-sordid they complete their transaction. They chose to meet again and again, each time slightly breaking the vow of indiscretion in accordance with their personal lives. They grow to care for one another. They think that they fall in love.

The, never divulged, sexual proclivity becomes a moot point as they decide to actually make love, almost bashfully, one afternoon, avoiding the playtime of their their fantasy-fulfillment. They open up to each other in the bath, they talk, have dinner and drink wine.

One day he purses her unsuccessfully into the Paris Metro after noticing her ambivalence towards a scheduled meeting. In another incident, selfishness is portrayed by both characters as they interrelate with an elderly woman whose dying husband they had come across in a hotel hallway. They were quite blasé about his eventual death even after visiting him in the hospital. HE even keeps the ring given to him by the old man in his death throes, instead of returning it to his wife. We have grown to "know" each of them and this exposed character trait is somewhat surprising.

Although physically they have met each others needs, their relationship cannot continue with  the huge bridge of misunderstanding that they equally share. They feel they know each other, but alas, they couldn't be further from the truth. The relationship had worked, excepting for the foundation on which it was never built. In our modern hurried lives of self-gratification is this to be an expected mode of relations?... physically gratifying, but emotionally hollow. One cannot help but reflect on what might have been with HIM and HER had the circumstances of their initial coupling been different. Fonteyne has done a magnificent job of conveying this current-day ailment, with the help of refreshingly subtle acting (Nathalie Baye winning Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 99').

I loved every minute of this 80 minute film. Short...yes, but appropriate for its intended message. I could easily name a dozen films off the top of my head that should have followed this guideline of appropriate time length for the appreciation of the audience rather than the marketability of the cinema. This is an intelligent film for the introspective viewer. One who might question the modern day psychology of relationships can find this a very frank and subtle exposition.

The DVD is clear and sharp in French audio with burned in English yellow sub-titles and bare-bones extras. An excellent buy in my opinion.

out of


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Film and DVD Details

Credited cast overview:

Nathalie Baye .... Her
Sergi López .... Him
Jacques Viala .... Interviewer
Paul Pavel .... Joseph Lignaux
Sylvie Van den Elsen .... Madame Lignaux
Pierre Gerranio .... Hotel receptionist
Hervé Sogne .... Ambulance driver
Christophe Sermet .... Hospital employee

Also Known As:
Affair of Love, An (2000) (USA)
Pornographic Affair, A (1999)
MPAA: Rated R for some strong sexual content.
Runtime: 80
Country: France / Switzerland / Belgium / Luxembourg
Language: French
Color: Color
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital / Dolby
Certification: Argentina:16 / Australia:MA / Chile:18 / Finland:K-14 / France:U / Hong Kong:IIB / New Zealand:R16 / Sweden:11 / UK:15 / USA:R

Technical Information
Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video
Theatrical Release Date: January 1, 1999
DVD Release Date: January 23, 2001
Run Time: 78 minutes
Production Company: Warner Home Video
Package Type: Snap Case

Aspect Ratio(s):
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 1
Available Audio Tracks: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Available subtitles: English

Edition Details:
• Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
• Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
• TV spot(s)
• Widescreen anamorphic format

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