In Patrice Cherau´s „Intimacy“ a man and a woman casually meet once a week to have sex in the floor of his dirty apartment, without words. As time goes by, the man starts to anxiously wait for the woman every week, up to a point that all his thoughts and week agenda are dominated by the encounters between the two. He starts both missing and following her, for there is an habit that becomes now difficult to break or change. He is confused by his own feelings and gets obsessed in getting closer to her, to the people who know her, to tell her how he feels. Not only does he want to reveal to her what these encounters mean for him but also to find out what meaning do they have for her.
This film always made me wonder about the apparently strange exchange of roles..
In “Intimacy” the man is the one who has the need to talk about what he feels, to declare his love and demand a reaction. And, I would say, cinema has taught us this to be a women´s role, for they are usually the ones to lose their heads, sacrificing everything in the name of love, making fools of themselves without thinking twice. Cinema is full of women driven by their passions – of course in the end, one has to reflect if this translates reality or is merely a consequence that cinema conveys – almost up to the present and with few exceptions – a male´s gaze? (But this is not the time nor place to answer such question).
To whom does the speech of love, the need to express one´s own feelings and demand a reaction from the other, usually belongs to?
K.G. (a male friend) has the argument that the character reflects the fact that both the director as the screenwriter are French, so he would obviously have a „literary“ urge to talk about his own emotions, for he cannot help himself. For K.G. this is a direct consequence of one´s nationality! I happen to find the cultural argument a very interesting one! From here it could be understood that latino men would never admit or discuss their feelings, because that wouldn´t be very manly of them, and German or English men would be obliged by the impact Romanticism had on their cultures to cry their eyes out and drag on about their own feelings!
D. (a girl friend) for instance, agrees that there is definitely something a bit odd with the film. For her, women are the ones always discussing feelings, taking exquisite pleasure in unforeseen theoretical details and demanding for reactions that somehow always seem to go in the same direction – a romantic one. Therefore, for D., this was a genetic consequence as in a woman´s brain the speech part is 90% more developed, she tells me.
K. (a girl friend) said she would agree that women talk about their own feelings more than men, if only I had asked her a few months sooner!!! It seems that lately she is totally done with listening to men´s love confessions (which have so far included different nationalities by the way). And this was the solid proof that nor gender, nor culture, play any role when it comes to reveal one´s feelings and demand a response to it.
So much for the cultural and genetic explanations! Still, it´s not possible to explain everything through pure individualism.
K.G., for instance, is of the opinion that women haven´t lived their emancipation to the fullest, and this would be the reason why they would still need to ask such things as: do you love me? How much do you love me? Do you really really love me? to exhaustion. For him, women who do that are totally phony as, in his perspective, it would only reveal that they still are not comfortable with enjoying their own physical pleasure pure and simply, and need to attach such words to it in order not to be “misinterpreted” by men (or what men expect of them).
All this gave me a lot to think of… could this be the reason why Claire, in Cherau´s film, doesn´t feel the need to share a single word with her occasional lover? Would her silence be the result that she’s being true to what she wants and she doesn’t need to disguise it as something else because deep down she made her choices?
For in fact, in the end of the film, she chooses to remain married, refusing to leave her husband or abandon her domestic life style, though she is totally bored with her marriage and she feels that her husband doesn´t have clue about who she really is.