An average attempt at delivering an erotic-themed drama, Nathalie… doesn’t quite deliver the way it should.
A wife of a cheating husband hires a stripper to seduce her husband, requiring that the woman tell her all the details, leading to complicated results.
Catherine (Fanny Ardant) is a wealthy and mostly contented woman with an enviable life: She’s a doctor, a mother to a handsome son in college, and her husband (played by Gerard Depardieu) is a successful businessman who loves her. Her marriage has gone stale, and by accident she discovers that her husband has been cheating on her with various younger women, and when she confronts him about it he denies it at first, but then admits it when she provides proof. Instead of destroying their marriage, the situation puts them in a position to either improve or implode, and Catherine comes up with an idea to explore her husband’s infidelity. She hires a beautiful stripper whose name they decide to call Nathalie (played by Emmanuelle Beart) to seduce her husband, but then requiring her to tell her all the details, leaving nothing out. When Nathalie comes back with the details of her first encounter with Catherine’s husband, it seems that Nathalie is really good at her job – so good that over the next few weeks she has entered into a purely sexual relationship with Catherine’s husband. The details entice Catherine, but over time she begins to realize that Nathalie has transformed her husband and will soon take her place if she doesn’t stop the transactions with her. Before she can take action, she feels without a doubt that her husband will be divorcing her and moving in with Nathalie, but then a revelation is revealed, putting the entire dynamic between the three characters into a tailspin, which will settle the matter in but a few short moments.
A rather simplistic and predictable drama with a specific point of view that should clue the viewer into how the events will play out, Nathalie … has some good performances: Ardant has the most complicated role, while Beart has the thankless task of being the erotic centerpiece, but she’s a good actress and the film works because she committed to the performance without any irony or cliché. Depardieu, who’s always good in everything I’ve seen him in, does a nice job playing a supporting character whose job in the film is to be the foil of the other characters’ emotions. He acts exactly as he should, and there’s nothing wrong with his performance. The film’s crux and point of view – and even the completely unsophisticated way it all plays out – is where I take some issue. Director Anne Fontaine’s approach is lackluster and droll, and if it had been directed by a man I think the movie might’ve had an edge and even some real suspense to how the characters all eventually converge. An average attempt at delivering an erotic-themed drama, Nathalie… doesn’t quite deliver the way it should.
Cohen Film Group’s recent Blu-ray release of Nathalie … is presented in high definition, and comes with English subtitles, but no bonus features.