Of all Hanif Kureishi's novels Intimacy - a sparse interior monologue about adultery - was the least likely to be adapted for the big screen. However, French director Patrice Chéreau has combined the plot and characters of the novel with those from one of Kureishi's short stories - "Night Light" from the collection Love in A Blue Time - to create a keen adaptation that is also something of a sequel.
In the film Jay (Mark Rylance) has abandoned his wife and children, lost his mistress and found himself shipwrecked on the shores of London's singles circuit. On the brink of despair he starts obsessing about the weekly visits from an anonymous woman who has sex with him but never speaks. He's finally found sex without the need for commitment. Wasn't that what he wanted?
Chéreau's improvisational riff on Kureishi's themes of love, longing and libido does great justice to the source material. But it's the film's ruthless dissection of the male sexual ego that is really outstanding. Shot in natural light and set in a winter London full of shadows, grime and dilapidated rooms, Intimacy resolutely refuses to glamorize the proceedings. The camera tears off in all directions, as restless as Jay as he tries to rediscover the difference between love and lust. Even the sex - which is amazingly explicit and frequent - offers little release, a soundtrack of breathless gasps, silence and unsatisfied desire. Bold, shocking and genuinely disturbing, Intimacy demands you engage with it. But be warned, it's uncomfortable viewing
Reviewed by Jamie Russell
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