Is it possible to segregate sex from romance and love so that it can flourish in its own quirky ways? This is a perennial question that has fascinated both novelists and filmmakers. In this intricately structured and well-acted French film, director Frederic Fonteyne and screenplay writer Philippe Blasband offer their variation on the popular theme.
The drama begins with an anonymous interviewer posing questions to a middle-aged woman (Nathalie Baye) and, separately, with a Spanish man (Sergi Lopez) with whom she has had a sexual affair. She had always wanted to act out a particular sexual fantasy and so she placed an ad in a magazine. The scene switches to her first encounter with the Spaniard who agrees to be her partner. They meet at a bar and are pleasantly surprised by their attraction to each other. Their weekly experiments with her fantasy are never shown on screen. Although the interviewer keeps trying to have them reveal its nature, they both steadfastly refuse. That is as it should be; one's sexual fantasies are no one else's business.
The woman's leading role in this relationship continues as she feels his desire for her grow. He breaks the rule of strict anonymity by taking her out to dinner. Then she suggests they have normal sex. Although they don't know each other's name, age, profession, or romantic history, they suddenly find themselves moving beyond the rigid requirements of their unspoken contract of sex with no strings attached.
An Affair of Love offers a multidimensional and richly textured exploration of sexuality that includes erotic attraction, flirtation, seduction, and orgasmic togetherness. However, a strange encounter with an old man who collapses in the corridor of the hotel where they meet sends them tumbling into a miasma of fear and doubt about the true nature of their relationship. When she declares her love for him, he reacts with tears but no reciprocal affirmation. The leap of faith is hard to make.
Nathalie Baye puts in a stellar performance as a woman who takes a walk on the wild side and is gratified by sex off the leash. She acts on her desire and lets go of passivity. Sergei Lopez is equally engaging as a romantic whose fear of failure stifles the genuine impulses of his heart.