“Simple passion”, of loving submission

Simple passion *

by Danielle Arbid

French film, 1 h 39 – Official selection Cannes 2020

For months, a few years ago, Annie Ernaux did nothing but wait for a Russian lover, who called her to come to her place. She only lived in the incandescence of this desire, perpetually reactivated. Of this mysterious man, she was condemned to know only the bare minimum which he conceded to her as information on him. Married, employed as a security officer at the Russian Embassy. Linked by this carnal trade and this dazzling, imperative conflagration, everyone experienced their own limits.

→ READ. Annie Ernaux, a sensitive journey through decades.

From these months of absolute dependence, of emotional and sexual submission, which detached her from real life, Annie Ernaux drew a short book, Simple passion, published in 1992, which remains one of the most popular of his work. Many readers, especially female readers, remain grateful to her for having translated so well, from the inside, the torment of impatience, the obsessive, dark and luminous wandering of this dizzying self-abandonment, maddening plunge into the heart. of intimate flaws and disturbing existential revelation.

Lætitia Dosch, Annie Ernaux’s double

The adaptation written by Danielle Arbid, in which Annie Ernaux did not participate, gets bogged down in a coldness of relations, dialogues without great consistency and feelings which seem more mimed than experienced. Hélène (Lætitia Dosch), Annie Ernaux’s double, is consumed in a desperate wait, tending towards the moment when a phone call will ring her deliverance, will begin the feverish ballet of the minutes which separate her from the return of her lover, mutic and ardent, which will offer him little more than the enjoyment of the moment.

Little by little, an unbalanced relationship of masochist domination is established which benefits the influence of this intermittent, rather unfriendly visitor (Sergei Polunin). Too stretched, too stringy, too punctuated by artificial situations (Hélène’s relations with her twelve-year-old son, left to himself), Simple passion paradoxically lacking in flesh, volcanic feelings, burning and perdition, tears and rage, the trail of fire of delirious passion.


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