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Damage (1992)

Fatale

Sometimes the love of a lifetime can tear your life apart

Directed by:

Louis Malle

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

In this steamy erotic drama, Jeremy Irons is Stephen Fleming, a well-respected Conservative Member of Parliament, Junior Minister and family man. This arrangement starts down the road to disaster after he meets the mysterious Anna (Juliette Binoche) at an embassy party. He is immediately attracted to her and they begin a passionate affair. This situation is complicated when he learns that Anna is involved in a relationship with his son Martyn (Rupert Graves), and gets even more difficult when Martyn and Anna become engaged.

Stephen and Anna continue their affair throughout the planning of the wedding, in spite of the dangers of discovery and what it would do to his home life and career. Completely obsessed, he will do anything to be with her – even give up his family. Anna is reluctant to let him do this, wanting to continue with her upcoming marriage while continuing to see him. It is inevitable that their secret will eventually come out, and the tragedy that they should have seen coming strikes when it does.

This is a decent idea that fails to translate to the screen, and the efforts of its talented cast and director can do little to save the screenplay. While of course steamy sex scenes are essential to the story, there are just too many of them – especially in the first half of the film. It might have been better to use some of that time encouraging an audience to care about these characters so that it matters to them when disaster ultimately strikes. The cast do the best they can with it – Irons and Binoche in particular – and the pace and tension of the story do pick up towards the end.

Originally released under the title 'Fatale' this film was later renamed 'Damage' for its US release. The film is based on the novel by Josephine Hart.

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It's Got: A fairly gripping ending.

It Needs: To spend less time on the sex scenes.

DVD Extras Only a trailer with this basic DVD release. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Bitter Moon, Metroland, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Summary

The half-decent second half probably isn’t justification for sitting through the first half, unless you’re a fan of Irons, Binoche or soft porn.

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