Running Time: 119 mins
There is a difference between an erotic film and a pornographic one. Erotic films explore sexuality, but are not necessarily explicit in content or exhibition.
Like any of God's gifts, our sexuality is worthy of exploration in the cinema, but the best erotic films are so because of their restraint. Pornographic films, on the other hand, are explicit for their own sake.
Intimacy has been causing headaches for censors all over the world because some people judge it to be an erotic rather than a pornographic film. The Australian censors have released it to art house cinemas uncut and with an R classification because of its "sexually explicit material is strongly supported by an artistic context". This was the same reason given for the
classification of Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, La Pornigraphique and The Idiots, which had similarly explicit scenes.
Jay (Rylance) is a barman in a London nightclub. He is in his mid-thirties, has walked out on his wife and children, is cynical and lost. At work he meets Claire (played by New Zealand actress Kerry Fox) and they have a sexual encounter at 2.00pm every Wednesday. At these encounters they never say a word to each other. No names, no lies. Soon, however, Jay wants to know more about Claire and begins to follow her home.
There is only one interesting turn in this story. It's the man who wants to move away from the near anonymous sexual encounters to sharing a life, knowing each other's stories. When this is thwarted the satisfaction of animal sexual urges are no longer enough. He wants a relationship.
Where the ironically titled Intimacy moves from being an erotic film about a sexually obsessed couple who desperately need counselling (which is hardly what many people want to watch at the cinema anyway), to a pornographic film, is in the reason for and the explicit nature and frequency of the sex scenes. Part of acting is to act. In this film the actors are not acting when they have sexual intercourse. This is a demand French director Patrice Chereau should never have made and one to which Rylance and Fox should never have agreed. It is an assault on the human dignity of those who produce this material, appear in it and those who watch it.
The only thing going for this grainy, dimly lit and ultimately dull film is that it proves the case, yet again, that having sex does not 'make love'. The greatest use of the gift of sexuality comes in a relationship of trust, mutual respect and fidelity which is what intimacy is really all about.
Richard Leonard SJ