Sara and Jean have been in a loving, stable relationship for ten years. They are happy. He is her rock, someone she can hold on to. When they first met, Sara was in a relationship with François, Jean’s best friend. One day, Sara sees François on the street. He does not see her, but she is overwhelmed by a sensation that her life could suddenly change. François does indeed get in touch with Jean to suggest that they work together again. Before long, things are in danger of spiralling out of control.
Avec amour et acharnement is Claire Denis’s third collaboration with acclaimed writer Christine Angot, with whom she wrote Un beau soleil intérieur, which also starred Juliette Binoche. In a performance that is just as brave and committed, the actor proves to be exceptionally supple as her body becomes the terrain for a captivating theatre of emotional opposites. Eric Gautier’s precise cinematography shows us contrasting images of fingers comfortably intertwined, but also Sara’s entire body in forward motion, erupting in deep, uncontrollable moans. Encircled by a wall of passionate flames, Denis’s protagonists appear to be under siege, seemingly oblivious to society and its inexorable tendency to separate all things into opposing categories.
With a soundtrack by Tindersticks, another of Denis’s usual collaborators, Avec amour et acharnement is a film, above all, of close-up shots, both for warmth and tension, with fiber on how the characters recognize each other, and this ability, difficult to achieve, is the main value of this film, which shows the mastery of a great filmmaker.