Great filmmakers don't need to include nudity or bed scenes to portray sensuality and sexual tension. Remains of the Day is a perfect example: Anthony Hopkins plays a chief butler and Emma Thompson a housekeeper as both choose to repress their attraction for each other—and the point was made.

Intimate Strangers, from the brilliant French director Patrice Leconte, is another example of such dressed-up sensuality.

The set-up for this French emotional thriller is irresistible: On her first visit to a psychiatrist, an attractive woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) pours out her disappointment in her husband's sexual rejection of her. The shrink (Fabrice Luchini) listens well. Or maybe he's just speechless, at least initially? Soon we learn that Anna, who has dyslexia, made a wrong turn when exiting the apartment building elevator on her way to the psychiatrist's office—and accidentally ended up in the home office of a reserved tax accountant, William Faber, to whom she recounts the intimate details of her sex.

Two sessions go by before Anna learns of her mistake, though not for the poor taxman's lack of trying to explain his identity. Realizing she's been confiding in the wrong person, she feels humiliated and disgusted. But, by then, she is also drawn to William. He is the only man who has truly listened to her, the only man whom she could tell the whole truth about the most embarrassing aspects of her life. Isn't this kind of empathy essential to intimacy? Why, after Anna finds a listening ear and acceptance in William, should she look for a certified psychiatrist? After all, as in one of many witty moments of the film, the psychiatrist she had intended to see tells the tax accountant, "We both treat the same neurosis: what ...

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Intimate Strangers
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
R (for sexual dialogue)
Directed By
Patrice Leconte
Run Time
1 hour 44 minutes
Cast
Sandrine Bonnaire, Fabrice Luchini, Michel Duchaussoy, Anne Brochet
Theatre Release
September 03, 2004 by Paramount Classics
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