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Damage
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from 11,151 votes
Release: 16 June 1994 (Netherlands) /

Damage

Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Louis Malle,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: A member of Parliament (Irons) falls passionately in love with his son's fiancée. They pursue their affair with obsessive abandon despite the dangers of discovery and what it would do to his complacent life and his son. Completely obsessed, he wants to give up his current lifestyle to be with her. She has no intention of allowing him to do this, preferring to have her marriage to the son as a cover. They are eventually discovered, and must deal with the damage. Based on the novel by Josephine Hart. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

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Critic Reviews

I'm mainly posting this because I've been reading the other comments here, and I just had to respond. While a movie's quality is (for the most part) subjective and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, I must say that those who thoroughly panned this movie have really demonstrated how little imagination most people have, and their lack of appreciation for subtlety in film or any other artistic medium is readily apparent.

For all the talk about the sex scenes in this movie and how they're laughable, or not erotic or whatever, no one is getting the point: the sex between Irons and Binoche is not there just to get the audience all hot and bothered. You have to look at it within the context of the story: these two people are not just out to get laid, to satisfy some momentary sexual whim. They didn't say, Oh, hey, you look hot, I'd sure like to bang you. From the moment they meet they are both captive to an overwhelming, inexplicable passion, due to deep-seated, subconscious motivations stemming from each person's individual history and emotional nature. It's fairly clear from the mostly silent, often awkward, and sometimes almost painful-looking sex that they are not in it for the sheer physical sensation, or even to show affection/love for each other. They simply can't help themselves. Through sex with each other they appear to be working out their own individual pain, a sense of loss or longing for something they are unable to express any other way, and the physical act is almost incidental. Whether they betray or hurt anyone else is beside the point. Each is damaged, and this is how they attempt to repair that damage, but it's a hopeless cause. This is why the sex comes off for the most part as passionless, futile, and far from pleasurable. These are not happy, normal people--they cannot experience much real pleasure the way the average person does. The sex, in service to the story and the characters, is portrayed just as it should be.

'Damage' a terrible film with bad acting? Nonsense. Even if you don't like it, i.e., it's just not to your taste, it's really impossible to deny that this movie is well done in every respect, and when it comes down to it, that is the only real criterion for judging the merit of any work of art. Did all the elements of the movie work to get across what the filmmaker was trying to do? Absolutely. Most people seem to be judging this movie based on their own petty, immature biases developed over years of watching empty, brainless, formula movies: do I like this actor's voice or looks; am I turned on by this actress's body; are these people and the things they do and say close enough to my own ideas about what people are like and how they should behave; does this movie let me remain in my safe, shallow, ignorant bubble of conformity and enjoy my microwave popcorn on the couch? I'm also amazed when people talk about how there are no characters to 'like' in a movie. Who cares? This should not be the point of any work of art. Life does not always present us with likable people, and neither does art. Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche and Miranda Richardson are all superb. Richardson's intensity is mesmerizing, and Irons and Binoche communicate incredible depths to each other and the audience with the smallest gesture or a seemingly pedestrian line, proving that less is almost always more. Watch Irons early on as he portrays his character's quiet sense of desperation and yearning to break out of his comfortable but dead existence, as though all his life he's been out of place, wondering how he got there but unable to articulate it. Binoche has few lines most of the time but doesn't need them: she shows convincingly with her face and movements an entire world of desolation and pain in Anna, along with the fierce drive she carries to maintain some semblance of hope in her life. This is all also due of course to the script and the direction. Besides all this it's also an incredibly stylish and gorgeous movie to look at. I don't know how anyone with any imagination or perceptiveness could find this movie boring or badly done. All in all, I highly recommend this film for a mature, sensitive, and powerful look at human relations and behavior. It's almost mythic in its ability to convey a sense of inevitability and emotional devastation. Brilliant, and hard to forget.

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