The French film Amour de Femme takes us to Paris, the city where everyone can find romance, including a married woman who falls for another woman.
Jeanne is at a club/bar with her husband—a bar where Marie is an exotic dancer. Within minutes, the two women are alone and talking—and flirting. Jeanne used to dance, and makes plans to take dance lessons with Marie. Jeanne's husband, David, doesn't suspect anything at first. But soon, despite having a seven-year-old son she loves very much, Jeanne is out late at night, and spending a great amount of time with Marie, who is actually the cousin of one of David's friends. So David has heard about her reputation, and suspects something is up with his wife, who is quickly growing more distant. Jeanne is falling in love with Marie, and she struggles to come to terms with it. Confiding in her closest friend doesn't work, because her honesty is met mostly with disgust and the old "maybe it's just a phase" line. As Jeanne contemplates how she adores her young boy and at the same time, how unhappy she feels in her world, she must decide if she's going to give up her old life and follow her heart.
Amour de Femme could be a beautiful film exploring how lives can be torn apart when people create the kinds of lives they are told they are supposed to, rather than the life that's right for them. Unfortunately, I wasn't moved by this film. I felt that any powerful passion that could have been created between Jeanne and Marie was all darkened by a seedy atmosphere. We're meant to believe Jeanne has the perfect family life. So what are she and her husband doing in a bar where exotic dancers are performing? The initial suggestion of her deflowering as a lesbian comes from Marie's sensuality, not her soul (seems like more of a gay man thing than a lesbian thing…), so all the dialogue that comes later can't patch up my initial impression that sex lies at the heart of their attraction. Jeanne is an Osteopath masseuse and both women are dancers, which suggests they are passionate about expression through the body, but even that comes across as incidental. Marie is supposed to be lower class in comparison to Jeanne, but Jeanne doesn't feel like she is much higher up on the socioeconomic ladder. She and her husband, being parents aside, are more wrapped up in themselves than their family life (scenes of both parents reading to the child at bedtime seem forced and out of place), and they don't exactly live a lush life—they live in a cramped apartment that looks like a hurricane has blown through it. And it never really feels like Marie is doing much home wrecking, and I don't mean because of the previously mentioned hurricane. It is just never established that there is any strength to the relationship between Jeanne and David. From the opening moments of the film, Jeanne is ALL about Marie, and David is just background noise, so when he does something extreme in his outrage towards Jeanne's secret life, it seems way too extreme for a man who never came across as all that interested in his wife to begin with. And the ending of the film, despite being "optimistic," is kind of depressing.
So what are the bright sides of the film? For the ladies, the women are attractive in a womanly way, with little lesbian identifying marks, and they flirt quite a lot, as well as have one short love scene. For me, well, Jeanne's husband David was pretty hot with dark features and gorgeous eyes, which made the film a bit easier to swallow.
The DVD is a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The film was grainy, and the overall image was gray and bland, with dull colors and soft blurry edges. However, this all may have been the intention of the filmmaker and a result of the original source. I can't be sure. It definitely added to the somber mood of the film. Other than that, the print itself was mostly clean, with few signs of damage or dust.
There is a 5.1 surround option, as well as a 2.0 stereo. I was quite impressed with the 5.1 track. The surround effects were used often for atmosphere, offering depth to the viewing experience. The left/right channel separation was also distinct. The only real issue was that the bass tended to be a little muddy.
Not a whole lot of extras here. the film is French with English subtitles, which can not be turned off. There are 20 chapter breaks to choose from and four preview trailers (none of which is the trailer for this movie).
Amour de Femme is a moody movie about a married mother who falls for another woman and feels her whole life unraveling. But it never seemed to be a life that was all that tightly wound to begin with, so I was left feeling little compassion for any of the characters.