This English-language European art movie (from stories by Hanif Kureishi) examines the anonymous, almost wordless, sexual relationship that married, working-class Claire (Fox) and embittered head barman and divorced father Jay (Rylance) embark on in his seedy flat in New Cross, London. The media's concentration on the explicit sex angle in this troubling, uneven but stimulating and cinematically intriguing film has been excessive, as the treatment is resolutely serious and meaningful. The film is about inevitable human incompleteness, living with contradictions, the irreconcilable conflicting hungers of the body and the heart. Fox and Rylance's performances, their lack of ingratiation and their plain, professional courage are the most remarkable things about the film - cameraman Eric Gautier's exciting, jagged, rich-toned rendering of London notwithstanding. At their best in the little theatre of the bedsit room, trouble only starts outside, where they, and the film, lose direction. The behaviour of other Londoners seems all wrong, if entirely plausible. This process of de-familiarisation is fascinating: it's invigorating to be made to feel, for an hour or so, an alien in your own city.
Cast and crew