The sex in Intimacy is explicit, do-it-all French; the setting is grubby, do-it-in-a-linty-flat English. The result is a controversial drama that sometimes keeps us powerfully in the moment — and sometimes just jerks us around.
In other words, French director Patrice Chéreau suggests in his English-language debut, this Intimacy mirrors the human urge for intimacy with other humans, which sometimes expresses itself in carnal hunger — and other times in a craving to pierce psychological boundaries.
Daring and/or daredevil actors Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox star as Jay and Claire, who know nothing about one another except lust when they first begin trysting on Wednesday afternoons in Jay’s tatty digs. He’s a divorced bar manager, Claire’s an amateur actress, still with her hoist-a-pint taxi-driving husband (Timothy Spall). Both have children. There’s a compelling Last Tango in Paris-styled sad voraciousness to this study in coupling; there’s also an unnerving self-consciousness in the way Chéreau’s camera itself penetrates the boundaries separating exposed character from naked actor.