The Nature of Love
Photograph: MK Productions
  • Film
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The Nature of Love

4 out of 5 stars

Monia Chokri’s intelligent culture-clash comedy fizzes with sexuality and cynicism


Time Out says

At a dinner party in Québec, attractive 40-somethings drink, chatter and meet new people. It’s initially hard to tell who’s with who – and who’s meant to be with whom. Sophia (Magalie Lépine Blondeau) questions this herself: is she really happy in her routine relationship with Xavier – or should she bed the brash, bearded construction contractor who comes to renovate their new holiday home? 

What starts as a lustful relationship with Sylvain (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) turns into something more serious. But well-heeled philosophy professor Sophia becomes increasingly, excruciatingly aware of the cultural differences between them. Is passion alone enough, she wonders? With enjoyable characters and smart dialogue, French-Canadian director Monia Chokri makes her dilemma a very entertaining ride.

The French title of this film translates as ‘Simple like Sylvain’, and his simplicities are certainly a target of humour, beautifully delivered by Cardinal. Take lines like: ‘Fruit is for women’, and in response to Sophia’s body insecurity: ‘You’re perfect… you make me hard.’ 

It may not be deeply romantic – but it certainly is funny

But there’s much more to the film’s comedy, and implicitly Sylvain, as Sophia wrestles with her feelings. While many romantic comedies overuse the best friend trope to let us know what the heroine is thinking, Sophia nervously muses out loud on her actions – sometimes during sex. ‘It’s totally irrational…’ she says breathlessly while in a hasty tryst with Sylvain. ‘It makes no sense.’ She then goes on to outline one of the film’s concepts that gives it a more cynical, ‘French’ edge: ‘I know no faithful couples… except my friend Catherine. There’s nothing carnal about her.’

Yes, this is a world where everyone is having affairs, so don’t come here if you want a romcom that believes in monogamy. But this also invites a genuine investment in the initially illicit relationship between Sophia and Sylvain. Both actors have sex appeal to spare and their love scenes are fizzing with a tangible connection – shown from a female gaze. Just when Chokri’s scenes start to look like a throwback to ’90s Hollywood erotica, she’ll slide in a moment of comical realism that dispenses with cliché. 

The biggest laughs are reserved for a climactic party scene that whirls headlong into farce, while making shrewd points about dating, class, and generational differences. If this is the nature of love, it may not be deeply romantic – but it certainly is funny.

In US and UK cinemas Jul 5.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Monia Chokri
  • Screenwriter:Monia Chokri
  • Cast:
    • Magalie Lépine Blondeau
    • Pierre-Yves Cardinal
    • Francis-William Rhéaume
    • Monia Chokri
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