Director Patrice Chereau discreetly cuts away just before we see too much, reminiscent of the famous scene in Roeg's Don't Look Now. Their encounters are grimly fascinating, rather than arousing. The guy wants something more and has a tragic background – he walked out on his wife and kids.
The woman, Fox, is in a rather too dependent marriage to Timothy Spall, so these two kind of need each other. The film revolves around the graphic but passionless sex scenes, with banal domestic discussion in-between. They become repetitive and dull. There's no light and shade, no small moments of happiness counteracting the relentless grey air of depression.
The characters become vamped-up stereotypes. The central couple just plays Brief Encounter with more profanities. There's no empathy between these characters, so we don't care about them. Director Chereau is so intent on making them interesting; he wastes a stellar support cast.
Timothy Spall lights up the screen every time he appears and were Alastair Galbraith's Glaswegian landlord fleshed out more, he'd be a far more interesting character. But Chereau's focusing on a couple who refuse to be intimate and watching them runs its interest course well before the film's two hours are up.
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