A psychological thriller starring Hugh Grant
, Kristin Scott Thomas
, Emmanuelle Seigner and Peter Coyote
and directed by Roman Polanski
. The script is inspired by a book with the same name. The film begins with a British couple Fiona and Nigel Dobson encountering a mysterious French woman and her crippled American husband Oscar, who tells him their story of meeting, falling madly in love then destroying each others lives. The entire film takes place aboard a holiday cruise ship sailing to Istanbul.
This film provides examples of:
- All Men Are Perverts: Oscar is very perverted. Nigel is shocked that anyone would be telling such a story to a complete stranger. He's equally shocked that he keeps listening.
- Ate His Gun: Oscar shoots Mimi and then turns the pistol against himself and shoots his brains out. There is a huge hole in his head. Utterly horrified Fiona and Nigel witness it, but are unable to stop him.
- The Atoner: One interpretation of Oscar.
- Bilingual Bonus: There is a lot of untranslated French in the movie.
- Bondage Is Bad: Mimi and Oscar are into kinky sex with lots of humiliating positions. It starts as safe, sane and consensual, but they get deeper and deeper and eventually their relationship is anything but safe or sane.
- Break the Cutie: Oscar intentionally breaks Mimi who was a pretty and nice enough girl who wants to be a dancer.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Mimi when Oscar wants to break things up with her. She begs him to take her back and makes a scene. He does take her back, but makes her life awful.
- Depraved Bisexual: Mimi. She seduces a wholesome woman Fiona.
- Destructive Romance: Mimi and Oscar's love was insanely hot and amazing at the start, but it destroyed their lives.
- Domestic Abuse: Oscar is guilty of emotional abuse and in one instance domestic violence. Mimi pays him back by causing him to become paralyzed, isolating him from anyone else, and making him into a cuckold.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Nigel downs a bottle of alcohol after his wife was seduced by Mimi and the two were seen going to "get a room"...
- English Rose: Fiona is described as a delicate beauty by Oscar. He says she has elusive, subtle kind of beauty and British charm. He also makes a point of comparing her to provocatively seductive Mimi. Fiona indeed is a pale-skinned woman and is shown to be very nice; for instance she helps messed-up Mimi or she befriends a little Indian girl.
- Europeans Are Kinky: Mimi is a French girl and she's into kinky sex. She's a dominatrix, bounds Oscar, they visit a sex shop and so on. Oscar (who is American) is bewichted with her beauty and oozing sexuality. Oscar and Mimi are also put in contrast with Brits Fiona and Nigel who appeared very prim and proper.
- Evil Cripple: Oscar is a jerk and horrible, despicable person on a wheelchair.
- Femme Fatale: Mimi, especially as the story progresses. She's a gorgeous but dangerous woman. Her sexuality and attachment to Oscar causes their fall.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Mimi starts out a rather sweet girl (if one who discovers she has a bit of a sadist side). Once Oscar breaks his leg, she becomes a rather terrifying Femme Fatale who permanently paralyzes Oscar, cuts him off from all other contact, and has sex with multiple people in front of him.
- Girl on Girl Is Hot: When Fiona goes dancing, Mimi instantly joins her and they start flirting with each other. They go down on each other, and the whole bar cheer them.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Fiona cheating on Nigel is arguably justified as he was more than willing to cheat on her.
- Informed Attractiveness: Emanuelle Seigner is undoubtedly a striking looking woman but the way the other characters describe her you'd think she was Helen of Troy.
- Instant Seduction: Mimi manages to seduce whomever when she wants.
- Kavorka Man: Oscar although you only have his word that he had sex with as many women as he says he did
- Lady in Red: Mimi was first seen in a red polka-dot dress and Oscar calls her "a sorceress in white sneakers". Later, she often wears other red dresses that are very tight. It marks her as a Famme Fatale.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Oscar intentionally humiliates Mimi by calling her other women's names in bed and later is forced to watch while she has sex with another man.
- Nigel plans to cheat on his wife with Mimi but in the end its his with who cheats on him... with Mimi.
- Love at First Sight: Oscar for Mimi. He first sees her on a tram and falls for her on the spot. He looks for her all over the city. It's revealed that Mimi liked him as well because she saved the tram ticket that Oscar had given her.
- Love Hurts
- Love Makes You Crazy
- Love Makes You Dumb: Or at least a doormat in Mimi's case for staying with Oscar despite his abuse. Note that Oscar was by this point trying to drive Mimi away by being as awful as possible, but it had the opposite effect.
- Love Makes You Evil:
- Oscar's excuse for his behavior.
- Apparently Oscar's terrible treatment of her and her own former love for him transformed Mimi into a sadist.
- Mad Love
- Masochism Tango
- Murder-Suicide: Oscar shoots Mimi and then turns the gun against himself.
- New Year Has Come: The film graduates with a New Year's Eve party and the morning after.
- Opera Gloves: Fiona wears a classy black-white gown with long gloves for the New Year's Eve party. She's a bit overdressed as others wear costumes and or casual outfits, but some are dressed as formally as Fiona. She looks gorgeous.
- Operation Jealousy: Mimi dancing with another man to make Oscar jealous and revive their relationship.
- Romanticized Abuse: Oscar's treatment of Mimi is psychological torture, but she still sees him as her soul mate who means well.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Mimi at one part of the movie when they were broken up, though some might argue her actions are justified.
- Spurned Into Suicide: Oscar suspects he has done this to Mimi but eventually she does it to him
- Unreliable Narrator: You have to take Oscars word that the history of his relationship with Mimi happens the way he tells it.
- Vomit Discretion Shot:
- Fiona is see-sick and has her head in the toilet at one point.
- One older gentleman is seen vomiting into a party conic hat when the ship shakes.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- Mimi cheated on Oscar in front of his eyes to torture him.
- Nigel (married to Fiona) prepares to sleep with Mimi, though he struggles a bit. Fiona senses it.
- Fiona sleeps with Mimi.