Park City’s Personal Bests

Hurts So Good

Floored: Rylance and Fox in Intimacy.
Photo: Jack English
Floored: Rylance and Fox in Intimacy.

Mindful that this surreal, raging schmooze-fest does in fact take place in the company of Mormons, festival staff were carding audience members at the world premiere of French director Patrice Chéreau's graphic Intimacy and actually turning away under-21s. Loosely based on two Hanif Kureishi stories, Chéreau's first English-language film was shot on location in South London, with an anxious handheld camera by the brilliant Eric Gautier (who, also having photographed Pola X, can now be deemed the poet laureate of underlit sex scenes). A man and a woman (Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox, both astonishing) meet up weekly for primal, convulsive sex—until one of them violates the anonymity of their tacit pact; the scenario echoes the recent Affair of Love, but instead of coy titillation, Intimacy strives for physical abandon and emotional freefall. It's a decidedly European film, or "perfectly dreadful high-art Eurotrash," as Variety's incensed Todd McCarthy declared in a curiously impassioned screed. In a sense, though, Sundance provided an apt context all the same: Chéreau's characters are prone to torrential, solipsistic eruptions, and their outbursts have a raw, chafing honesty worthy of a true godfather of American independent film, John Cassavetes.

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