Sapphic Cinema: “Amour de Femme”


There’s just something about French women in film. That bored way they treat love as a pastime, the gorgeous, dissipated yearning for pleasure, the mouths in permanent pouts from cradling cigarettes and over pronouncing “oo.” Every French woman in a movie just seems like she’s waiting for another woman to kiss her with a little more vigor than a French man can muster. And in Amour de Femme, the 2001 French made-for-TV movie, they (and we) get their wish.


From the opening shot, it doesn’t get more French than Amour de Femme—actually, it does in The Girl, which is one step away from being a fucking cartoon and which we will get to—but the happyish married couple is running in formalwear towards a party. Jeanne and David have been married for eight years, during which time they have produced an angelic son and presumably eaten enough baguettes to reach the moon (yes, the French jokes are cheap shots, but I have no intention of stopping them).


But, even by French standards, Jeanne is bored. She married young and seems mystified that her life continued past the point of “happily ever after,” and that her prince charming is actually a condescending little shit. That night they go to a party hosted by David’s even more insufferable friend, Franck, who has hired HIS OWN COUSIN as a stripper. But that cousin is her.


This movie would be nothing without Raffaela Anderson, who plays Marie. Hellene Filleres’s Jeanne has a doe-eyed (or giraffe-eyed) vulnerability that draws you in, but Anderson crackles with warmth and mischief and unselfconscious sexiness. Search for her on the Internet and you will find that she was horribly misused by pornographers and disappeared from the public eye not long after this film. (I imagine her renting bicycles to tourists on a small, sunny island. You cannot watch this film and not imagine her.) And, in spite of her indisputable Frenchiness, her appeals derives not from being elusive, but from the eager, almost childlike way she thrusts her heart into Jeanne’s hands.

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