Mona Lisa shares much in common with that painting. The film contains a female character who is serene, dark, and mysterious. It doesn't take a genius, however, to comprehend that the leading actress here is a lot sexier than the woman in the painting.
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Not aiming for the spiritual poetry of In the Realm of the Senses or the philosophical transgressions of Crash, Chereau keeps his sexual odyssey firmly grounded in terms of straightforward character development. That may be the very reason why Intimacy seems unerringly impressive but never particularly significant on more than a tactile, sensory level. The themes of human isolation are barren and obvious, a science project devoid of any especially groundbreaking hypothesis. Intimacy does manage to stand out from lesser portraits of "human interconnectedness" and Pinter-esque rummages through psychological dirty drawers (okay, kill me). Shallow though it might sound, it's amazing how much is filled in through an inspired cast, perceptive camerawork, and imaginative ways of treating the love scene. Those ingredients are too assured and confident to merely dismiss as icing on the cake, especially since they are the substance of the cake itself.
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Such is the rather large pill you are supposed to swallow if you truly want to enjoy Emma, the latest in the incessant parade of increasingly bad adaptations of so-called "classic" novels.
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When I first saw the film in 1998, that's what I did.
Continue reading: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Review