There's nothing more curious than a movie that attempts to be sexy, grabbing a fistful from the ol' bucket of taboos to toss up on the screen, but ends up missing that mark by a wide margin. Wife-swapping, deceit and supposedly hot sex before the ingestion of muddled cocktails are all on display in Antony Cordier's (Cold Showers) Four Lovers, a by-the-numbers drama about the damage done to the lives of two couples who decide to take a ride on the sexual swing (as in, to swing, darling).
Vincent (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and Rachel (Marina Foïs) find themselves thrust together as a result of a work relationship. Shortly thereafter, they have a couples dinner with their significant others, Teri (Élodie Bouchez) and Franck (Roschdy Zem). And, before you can say wham-bam, thank you ma'am, Teri and Franck are off to the races, stealing kisses while Vincent and Rachel are in the other room, setting the stage for the couples to exchange lovers for a season of sexual adventures.
Much of what follows comes off like b-grade Cinemax fare captured on film in a manner that visually exceeds the limp drama at play. Unfortunately, Cordier doesn't seem all that interested in fleshing out these characters beyond the basic mechanics that lead to their arrangement, most of what we glean about the characters comes from ennui-stricken narration spoken aloud by Rachel. Because they're underwritten as characters, Vincent, Teri, Rachel and Franck resemble nothing more than an avenue to explore scintillating notions, rather than a group of people who invite risk into their relationships for reasons of personal desire and sexual expansion.
Regrettably, the sheer practicality of their arrangement cuts much of the sizzle out of the onscreen acrobatics. There's little danger expressed here; even the jealousies and revelations of duplicity that develop in the last half of the film can't fully redeem the picture. You want a little steam with your cinema? You'd be better off looking for a film that's a little less stale; the maneuvers being explored in Four Lovers are well past their sell-by-date.
Four Lovers begins its run at the Living Room Theaters on Fri., April 13th. More info available here.
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