A French film starring English-speaking actors and set in London, Intimacy has been getting a bit of attention in art house circles for its frank sexuality: At last! High art porn! This shouldn't be that big an achievement, yet there's been nothing close to this since the Japanese film In the Realm of the Senses heated up art house screens in 1976.
To be honest, there's nothing in Intimacy that approaches the we-didn't-need-to-see-that level of Realm's extreme close ups of fellatio and such, though it must be said that Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox, playing a man and woman who meet once a week at his flat for hot, anonymous sex, are pretty fearless with what they're willing to do in front of a camera.
Of course, anybody who's seen Last Tango in Paris or even this year's dud The Center of the World knows that whenever a couple decides to have sex but not get to know each other personally, there's trouble a-brewin': one of the pair - the lonelier one - is bound to become emotionally involved. In this case, Rylance starts yearning for Fox, and one afternoon he decides to follow her home - only to discover, to his shock, that she is happily married (her husband is played by the always reliable Timothy Spall) with a young son.
It's here where Intimacy becomes most interesting, as Rylance decides to form a friendship with the unwitting Spall - and even with the son! The tension between them is great, as Rylance can't help but drop hints that he's schtupping his new buddy's wife behind his back, and as Spall continually varies the opacity of his suspicion.
Fox isn't given as much to do (except get naked and go down on Rylance), which is a shame, because she's an excellent actress. But she does her best with her uneven screen time. Yet despite the rich performances, the story bogs down with tiresome subplots involving Rylance's rotten friends and Fox's acting student (played by the undying Marianne Faithfull).
I must admit, the strong accents eluded me occasionally, and thus a couple of crucial plot twists revealed mainly via dialogue were lost on me. So maybe Intimacy is better than I think it is. In any event, if you're only interested in the sex scenes - which are fairly titillating - you might as well only watch the first 15 minutes of the film.