Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: An Affair of Love (1999/2000)

An Affair of Love* is a French language film from 1999 (distributed in the US in 2000) directed by Belgian Frédéric Fonteyne and starring Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez in the title roles of ‘Her’ and ‘Him’.

‘Her’ and ‘Him’ meet via a personal ad in a magazine.They are both seeking an anonymous liaison; they do not know each other’s name (as has been agreed upon). However, over the course of the affair, it becomes obvious to the couple as well to the audience that what was supposed to be a series of ‘encounters’ has become something a bit more complicated. The question then becomes what will happen next?

I will not completely ‘spoil’ the rest of the plot in hopes that you will check out this film; but I suspect that many of you will be able to figure it out to varying degrees.

The irony of the French title is that there is nothing pornographic about this film. In fact, quite the opposite is true: it is a tender tale of two people who are faced with the decision as whether or not to act upon their love for each other.

I like to think of this film as sort of a companion piece to another tale of love that is (maybe) not fully realized – Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. In Brief Encounter, we have a pair of adults whose love is present but never fully expressed (their one attempt falls haplessly apart). In An Affair of Love there is the full expression of the act of love which develops into a real love – but it is similar to Brief Encounter in that the love is somehow incomplete and not fully realized to a conventional satisfaction.

In both movies, the end result can (may) leave the audience feeling alienated and unfulfilled. But because An Affair of Love is handled properly – through its adept directing and acting – the audience leaves the film understanding. In my opinion, there must be a level of accomplishment in having achieved that.

* French Title: Une Liaison Pornographique


  1. Not having seen it, I gather there’s a heavy underlay (koff) of irony in the original title…that the US distributors were utterly terrified by. Perhaps the notion of even tender lust at first sight…

  2. I had noted that…particularly when looking it up on IMDb, and noting how no other country seemed to have much problem with the original title.

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