Dir: Monia Chokri | Cast: Magalie Lepine, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Francis William Rheaume, Monia Chokri | Comedy Drama Canada 110′
Girl meets boy from the other side of this tracks in this Quebec-set drama that explores how love can break down even the toughest barriers of class and intellect, until the cracks start to show.
Canadian actor and filmmaker Monia Chokri returns to Un Certain Regard with her third feature having won the Jury prize of the Cannes sidebar in 2019. The Nature of Love very much brings to mind Brigitte Rouan’s 1997 feature After Sex: A forty year old woman, in a loveless and sexless relationship, embarks on a risky affair in a social environment unknown to her. It’s a well-worn formula but told with style and appeal.
Sophia (Lepine-Blondeau) and Xavier (Reaume) are middle-class intellectuals living together in Quebec. Held together by a shared history and a tight circle of friends they have drifted into that ‘friendship’ zone that so often sounds the death knoll on passion. But when Sophia meets Sylvain (Cardinal), a builder working on her new summer house, the chemistry is electrifying.
Sylvain is all brute strength and masculine charm, and Xavier seems content to let things slide. But soon Sylvain’s blue-collar background is at odds with Sophia’s soigne milieu. And rather than accepting his gaucheness amongst her own set, Sophia persists in correcting her new lover’s limited vocabulary (“he has to learn to be precise to give his opinion greater value”). And that flies in the face of Sylvain’s male ego. After the usual recriminations the lovers split, and Chokri then explores the aftermath digging deeper into their cultural differences in a scene of utter confusion.
Chokri plays Sophia’s close friend Francoise, her role is to support this new beginning, while Sophia’s mother is the voice of reason, knowing her daughter all too well. Xavier’s father is the Alzheimer’s sufferer, reminding us to live life to the full: the Grim Reaper is always waiting in the wings.
Not as intricate and poetic as Mia Hansen-Love’s One Beautiful Morning, The Nature of Love is still a passionate portrait of a woman on fire. Shot with simmering compassion by DoP Andre Turpin, Chokri keeps up a relentless pace in this no-holds-barred dark comedy.
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL | UN CERTAIN REGARD 2023