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Patrice Chéreau, 2001
France/UK/Germany/Spain | Format: 35mm | 119 minutes
Chéreau’s first and only English-language film, adapted from the work of author Hanif Kureishi, drew controversy on release for its explicit, unsimulated sex scenes. But Intimacy, a chamber piece about an isolated, divorced bartender (Mark Rylance) who longs to know more about the nameless woman (Kerry Fox) he meets every Wednesday for bouts of passionate yet emotionless sex, is less an exercise in épater la bourgeoisie shock therapy (like some of the New French Extremity films with which it’s since been lumped) than a sad, tender portrait of emotional and spiritual isolation. Chéreau documents the couple’s increasingly tense, tangled relationship with extreme precision, pushing his two leads to unforgettable performances in the process.