Romance is a 1999 French arthouse drama film directed by Catherine Breillat.
Marie (Caroline Ducey) is a schoolteacher whose boyfriend, Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), refuses to have sex with her. Marie, irritated, begins having liasons with other men.
First, she picks up a man named Paolo (played by Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi, who would later also appear in Anatomy of Hell) from the local bar. The two have sex, though Marie vows not to kiss him on the lips. When they part, she does, however; so she vows not to see him again.
Next she goes to her school's headmaster, Robert (François Berléand), who claims to have bedded 10,000 women, and with whom she engages in BDSM, only for her to have a breakdown.
In the time she has spent away, Marie expects that Paul would have cheated on her; but going back to him she discovers him idly sitting in a restaurant reading. Indeed, all he had wanted was to be away from her, which in her mind is even worse than if he actually was cheating. Heading back to their apartment, she gets raped by a stranger on the stairs.
She then goes back to Robert and engages in BDSM with him again, this time affably. She then goes back to Paul and informs him of her dalliances; this turns him on and he finally has sex with her, thus impregnating her. During her subsequent exams Marie hallucinates that the upper half of her is on one side of a wall in a hospital, and the lower half on the other side of the wall is in a brothel being ravaged by multiple men. During this time Paul displays some newfound affection for her, but he quickly slips back into his old ways, drinking and hitting on strange women with his family at the bar. Marie's pissed. That's the final straw.
So she blows up their apartment and goes and has the baby with Robert. The end.
The film was one of the first mainstream (as in non-pornographic) films to feature unsimulated sex. It includes Rocco fitting a condom over his penis, blowjobs, handjobs, bondage, masturbation and a childbirth scene. It can therefore be considered one of the pioneers of the Euroshlock resurgence in the 2000s. Critical reception was mixed. Some accused it of being boring and pretentious, some decried the graphic sexual content. Others, such as Roger Ebert, praised it.
This film provides examples of:
- All Women Are Lustful
- Ambiguously Gay: Paul, possibly. It would explain why he didn't want to have sex with Marie and why she claimed he was repulsed by women. Then again, he did dance with girls at the bar and have sex with her once he knew she was cheating...
- Brains and Bondage: Marie and Robert are respectively a schoolteacher and her boss. He claims to have bedded 10,000 women, but when she has a freakout when they first try some light bondage, he fesses up he's never actually tried it before.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Paul is, at his worst, a neglectful and possibly unfaithful jerkass. Marie murders him at the end of the film by setting up their apartment's natural gas to explode when he can't even wake up to take her to the hospital when she goes into labor with their child. Makes you wonder if she ever heard of just dumping him. And what did their cat do to deserve it?
- Fan Disservice: You might think the BDSM scenes with Robert have fetish appeal. They don't. And they're not intended to.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Marie trying to give a handjob to Paul's stubbornly flaccid penis.
- Speech-Bubble Censoring: The poster for the film consists of a topless Marie with the title of the film covering up her nipples.