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Film / Damage (1992)

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Damage is a 1992 Psychological Thriller film directed by Louis Malle, starring Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson and Rupert Graves.

Dr. Stephen Fleming (Irons), a British politician, lives with his wife Ingrid (Richardson) and his daughter. His son Martyn (Graves) works as a journalist. Martyn starts a relationship with Anna Barton (Binoche), the daughter of a diplomat. Stephen meets Anna at a reception. She tells him that she is a friend of Martyn. Stephen and Anna are immediately attracted to each other and they soon start a secret relationship.


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Damage provides examples of:

  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Martyn walks in on Anna, his fiancée, having sex with his father.
  • Betty and Veronica: Stephen Fleming (Archie) is married with Ingrid (Betty), who is a respectable woman with whom he had two children. He falls in love with Anna (Veronica). Anna is the girlfriend of his son, she is much younger than Stephen and she has passionate sex intercourses with him.
  • Big Fancy House: Ingrid's father owns a mansion in the country. Anna is thrilled by this big house when she goes there for the first time.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Anna and her brother were very close, so close that he committed suicide when Anna started dating a man.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The Flemings soon hear that Anna's brother committed suicide when she started dating a man.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Subverted. Anna is the official girlfriend of Martyn and she has a secret relationship with Stephen, but when Martyn dies in an accident, she dumps Stephen and gets back to Peter, her former lover.
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  • Destructive Romance: Because of his love for Anna, Stephen loses his job and his family. He ends up alone in a small flat in Southern France.
  • Downer Ending: Martyn dies. Stephen is devastated and he subsequently loses his wife, his job, his reputation, and even his lover who dumps him immediately.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Anna was 15, her brother committed suicide when he discovered she was in a relationship with Peter.
  • The Film of the Book: The film is an adaptation of a 1991 book of the same title by Josephine Hart.
  • Foreshadowing: Anna's Dark and Troubled Past (her brother committed suicide because he was jealous of her boyfriend) foreshadows the end of the film: Martyn (who looks like Anna's brother) dies because he is under shock when he discovers that Anna has a secret lover.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Anna, a young woman who works in an antique shop, lives in a luxuous flat in London. Moreover, she rents another flat where she secretly meets her lover, Stephen.
  • Incest Subtext:
    • Anna and her brother were very close, so close that he committed suicide when Anna started dating a man. However, it is never revealed if Anna was really romantically involved with her brother.
    • After Martyn dies, Ingrid tells Stephen that he only lived for Anna (actually, Stephen was passionately in love with her), while she only lived for Martyn, her son. If she was attracted to her son, this might explain why she disliked his girlfriend.
  • Likes Older Men: Anna's mother tells that Martyn is not Anna's type: Anna generally dates older men. Her former lover Peter and her secret lover Stephen are much older than her (Stephen is the father of her official fiancé).
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Stephen's love for Anna makes him act irrationally. For example, during a business trip, he travels at night from Brussels to Paris just to see his lover. In the end, he loses his job and his family because of his love.
  • Love at First Sight: Stephen and Anna are immediately attracted to each other when they meet each other at a reception.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Stephen and Anna make love in a doorway in Paris.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Martyn brings Anna to his parents' house to introduce her to them. The meeting is quite awkward because Martyn's mother Ingrid takes an immediate dislike to Anna (but she does not show it openly). Moreover, Stephen and Anna have already (but they do not tell the others about it) met and are attracted to each other.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Stephen and his wife Ingrid outlive their son Martyn who dies from falling into a stairwell.
  • Primal Scene: Martyn walks in on his father making love with his secret lover. To make things worse, the said secret lover is Anna, Martyn's fiancée.
  • Self-Harm: Ingrid harms herself when she hears that her son is dead and her husband had an affair with his future daughter-in-law.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Stephen's unfaithfulness is depicted somewhat sympathetically because he seems to be unable to resist Anna's charms, even if he tries to. Her attraction is just too powerful.

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