Phwoar! This is one erotic film…so caveat emptor. Based on a 61-page autobiographical novella by Annie Ernaux, about the author’s obsession with Mr A, the film brings it to life – it has to be said – at great length. Helene (Laetitia Dosch) is a forty-something divorcee who, in the opening shot, sets the scene of the movie when she says to a therapist, ‘From September last year, I’ve done nothing but wait for a man’. And, dear viewer, so do we!
The object of her desire is mysterious Russian ‘diplomat’, Alexandre, played by hunky Russian Ballet star, Sergei Polunin. His body is non-pareil as it would be, given his profession, and adorned with his real-life tattoos – although his one of Putin (he is a devotee apparently) has been covered up for our sensibilities. She cannot call him, so we wait with her, checking her phone almost every minute of the day or night, as her life falls apart. She neglects her rather endearing and unsurprisingly grumpy son (Lou-Teymour Thion), bores her best friend with her lover’s antics, and only just manages to carry out her lectures on Aphra Benn, the British Restoration feminist playwright, an ironic touch – for feminist she is not!
The film is slight – it’s all about the steamy sex which is uninhibited – and the lurking question is how (and when) will this all end? As a tale of sexual obsession – called passion here – it does what it says on the tin. I rather liked the description of one reviewer – 50 shades of grey with garlic. Its French-ness just makes it all a bit more upmarket.