Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
She comes to his bedsit every Wednesday afternoon. They don’t speak. They don’t even know each other’s name. But something passes between them as their bodies converge and passion ignites in the dim, carpeted silence of his basement bedroom. He has left his wife and family. Her story is a mystery, a puzzle waiting to be penetrated and unraveled. Their union is rife with longing, an impermanent compulsion coiled in a fundamental need to reach out and connect with another person, another body.
An intensely passionate filmmaker who is no stranger to the milieu of love and relationships, Patrice Chéreau (Queen Margot) takes Hanif Kureishi’s controversial fourth novel as the source for Intimacy, his first English-language production. In its darkened interior spaces, made all the more immediate by the gliding handheld movements of virtuoso cinematographer Éric Gautier, Intimacy dramatizes our contemporary yet age-old preoccupation with the relationship between love and sexual fulfillment.
But beyond its gorgeous production design and masterful direction, it is the unflinching courage of its peerless cast, most notably Mark Rylance (Angels and Insects), Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) and Timothy Spall (Topsy Turvy), that distinguishes this remarkable drama. A profound and erotic meditation on the impermanence of love and the destabilizing effects of desire, Intimacy is emotional viewing for anyone – particularly for the man or woman who has lived through the ‘terrible journey, a season in hell, and a reason for living’ that Kureishi calls marriage. — Rebecca Yeldham, Sundance Film Festival 2000
When we see Claire disappearing on to a bus in the busy South London street after it has all ended, it is her needs, desires and existential crisis that a gay French director and a female co-scriptwriter have lodged in our minds. Kerry Fox’s achievement here is particularly marked. After a century in which the cinema has been the vehicle for men – Brando, for instance, in the medium’s most famous testament to middle-aged anguish, the impossibility of divorcing sex from emotion and the performance from the performer – to bare their souls in virtuoso solos using the instrument of women’s bodies, Fox’s superb incarnation of Claire is a timely reminder that it really does take two to tango. — Richard Falcon, Sight & Sound, 7/01