Affair of Love
(2001) - Fine Line Features (New Line)
by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/C-
Specs and Features
81 mins, R, letterbox widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
full-frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch),
Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew
filmographies, original theatrical website on DVD-ROM, film-themed
menu screens, scene access (12 chapters), languages: French (DD 5.1
and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
was an implicit rule from the word go: no mention of our lives."
An Affair of Love tells its
story in flashback. Two people, a woman (Nathalie Baye) and a man
(Sergi López), talk separately with an interviewer about an
affair they had together. Their individual recollections of minor
details vary slightly - how frequently they saw each other, the
duration of the affair, how they met - but they both agree that the
intent of the meetings was purely for physical reasons. They wanted
to have anonymous, no-strings-attached sex with a stranger: someone
who knew nothing else about them and would perform their particular
fantasies without hesitation. "It was a pornographic affair,"
she tells the interviewer, almost as if she's trying to convince
herself it was nothing more to her. We can already see, even this
early on, that the two are more willing to tell the camera than they
were each other that, ultimately, they wanted more from each other.
The two make a conscious effort to keep the outside world - the
real word - out of their encounters. Anything that could divert
their attention from their fantasies (even each other's names) is
unwanted. They meet weekly at a specified café, before
checking into a nearby hotel. When an old man collapses outside the
door of their hotel room, they're forced to re-examine the nature of
their relationship. Can they go on as just sex partners, or do they
want something more? The two discuss their sexuality with each other
and do so naturally, without the affects of conventional movie sex
talk. I appreciate the fact that neither of the leads are stunning
Hollywood types. Baye and Lopez are each good-looking, but they're
not perfect. They're in their forties (ancient by conventional
American film standards) and neither one of them is in outstanding
physical shape. He confesses to her that he likes the physical
appearance of a woman who's had children. They even go so far as to
discuss the age-related aches and pains caused by two sexual
encounters in one day.
I can see the appeal of making an American version of
An Affair of Love. Perhaps an
American audience would relate to it better if there were actors in
it that they recognized and felt comfortable with. But I can also
see the temptation to make it something it is not. Even the title
was changed for release here. The direct French to English
translation is A Pornographic Affair.
An American film would want a happier, tidier ending and would more
than likely try to make the sex scenes more illicit and "steamy."
Real human desire and sexuality is discussed more than it is put on
display in An Affair of Love.
In the end, it's a more effective way of addressing the movie's
frank sexuality. Director Frédéric Fonteyne avoids the
temptation of extended, overdone sex scenes and plays it smart - he
knows that our own imaginations are better, more reliable
interpreters of our desires.
New Line gives you the option of watching An
Affair of Love in either an anamorphic widescreen or
full-frame transfer. The 2.35:1 widescreen image is a first-rate
effort and presents a near flawless image. Color reproduction is
precise, revealing the deep reds of the hotel in perfect detail with
no bleed. In addition to good color detail, contrast is also
excellent and black levels are properly maintained. Edge enhancement
is not an issue and compression artifacting is minimal at worst.
Flesh tones are impeccable and provide striking, natural close-ups
of the actors. An Affair of Love
was shot on Super 35, and the full-frame presentation takes the soft
matting away from the bottom of the screen to reveal more image. The
same does not apply to the sex scenes - a traditional pan and scan
job was done on these scenes, lopping off nearly half the picture.
It looks fine, but the intended aspect ratio of the film was the
2.35:1 image, so watch that one. The film looks all the better for
You'll get two versions of the original French audio track - one in
full Dolby Digital 5.1 and the other a Dolby Surround track. The 5.1
track is the stronger of the two, but it's still an understated mix
that wisely focuses on the dialogue between the two characters. The
film has only a handful of music cues, but they're spread across the
rear surround channels, which are otherwise used for soft ambient
effects. Use of the .1 LFE channel is somewhat thin, but manages to
add some strength to the soundtrack. My only gripe in this
department is the subtitles. They're burned into the image - you
can't manually turn them off. There's bound to be people who don't
need the subtitles, and it's going to be a distraction for them.
It's also problematic if you have to watch the film with the Closed
Captioning on, as the two different subtitling options will clash
with each other. It's a minor issue, but a valid one nonetheless.
The main disc has only two real features - the theatrical trailer
(in 1.85:1 anamorphic) and brief bios of the two principle actors
and the director. New Line has also included the film's original
theatrical website on DVD-ROM. Normally, I'm not too impressed with
ROM or printed information, but the website information gives some
valuable detail about the making of the film, along with a few
production stills. It's worth at least one viewing.
An Affair of Love is a good
movie that didn't find much of a release in the United States. It's
a compelling character study of two people who, good or bad, are
willing to fully explore their sexual desires with each other. If
you like French cinema or if films like Last
Tango in Paris, that deal with adult sexuality in blunt
terms, you may want to give it a try. New Line's done a worthy job
of making it look and sound good for home video. Quibble with the
subtitles aside, this is a fine movie-only DVD.