[Critique] “A story of love and desire”: scattering against the sin of the flesh

After a six -month wait due to the closure of theaters in January, the film A story of love and desire finally coming out with us, she who closed the Critics Week in Cannes in 2021. And believe us, this second part film by Leyla Bouzid, after I could barely open my eyes, will delight the skins of Quebecers. The director and screenwriter let us taste the eroticism of the words while a greedy one bites the forbidden fruit before enjoying its sweet flesh. Poetry rarely reaches such a level of cinematic sensuality. We are about to approach sin in the flesh.

“Indulge in the charms of beautiful ones with straight breasts and, like wandering gazelles, leave yourself to pleasure. In this lush garden, the roaring wolf there answered a happy song of the birds. Here is the love and desire described to us by the Arab poet Ibn’Arabî in the 13th century.e century. It was a feeling of pure joy that young Ahmed was about to study, beginning his study of literature at the Sorbonne University in Paris. This young man from the Algerian immigrant community has no doubt that his culture has such sensuality. As if she had no doubt that the beautiful Farah, a student in Tunisia, could evoke all the flowers of Arab erotic poetry.

As Leyla Bouzid told us in an interview last week, she was very inspired. The piano lesson by Jane Campion to erotize the bodies of her characters. But Almodóvar is also in Bouzid’s way of filming bodies, as did the great Spanish master of In the flesh. The Tunisian director multiplied the close-ups with flush light that remained on the skin of the man and woman, almost creating the texture of the skin under the fingers. She takes advantage of her characters without sexual intercourse, as she maintains a certain decency to present a perfectly desirable creature, and not something the body wants.

And as people don’t get enough, Bouzid even goes so far as to eroticize books. Through his lens, the pages of the books are so many pieces of skin that the protagonists touch, the grain of paper that unites the epidermis. We not only enjoy the words of the poets we hear, but also those we see, and all our senses are guarded.

However, this ode to sensuality would not have had all its glory without the music of composer Lucas Gaudin, who was not yet known in 7.e art. The soundtrack occupies an important place in Leyla Bouzid’s films, as it tells where the words fail the characters. Gaudin’s unique brand, a hybrid between contemporary and jazz, suggests wiping the bodies as the heart runs with excitement, and raising the temperature. Feverish and noble, we would have liked more.

Between fantasy and reality

Sami Otalbali delights the viewer to the rhythm of Ahmed’s erotic awakening with great sensitivity and restraint. He was also selected by the Académie des César for the award for best man’s hope in February. A talent to follow, therefore.

In Ahmed’s eyes shone the sea of ​​worms, with each of its feet like Farah’s. He was a poet who sought his voice, for this one did not have his desire anything unstoppable. He feels imprisoned in a cultural straitjacket, while it itself imposes these barriers, for fear of being watched by others and for fear that reality will not fulfill fantasy.

A pillar of societal criticism, Ahmed allows its creator to remind us that men should also let go of themselves. Much of the social discourse, A story of love and desire did not avoid the question of the place of women and also touched on the problem of the image of the Arab community. The one he gives back to himself and the one he gives back to others. Dense topics are dear to the director, evoked with precision, and that call for their own work.

From film to film, Leyla Bouzid refines her style. The next promises a bright cinematic moment.

A story of love and desire


Romantic drama by Leyla Bouzid. With Sami Otalbali and Zbeida Belhajamor. France, 2020, 102 minutes. Inside inside.

To be seen in the video

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