Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche do some "Damage" in this 1992 film also starring Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, Ian Bannen and Leslie Caron. Irons is a British cabinet minister who falls for his son's girlfriend (Binoche), a deeply disturbed young woman. Despite the facetiousness of my summary line, this is quite a brilliant film about emotionally damaged people and obsession. It also comes off as very realistic because the emotions are portrayed so honestly. On the surface, it seems ridiculous, sort of a sex-change version of The Graduate, with Binoche involved with both father and son. Here is the Irons character, Dr. Stephen Fleming, with a brilliant career, a beautiful wife (Richardson) whose father (Bannen) has had a brilliant career; they have two children and a lovely home and lifestyle. Why threaten it with a tawdry affair? I kept thinking what an idiot Irons was throughout the film, yet we know that in real life, people have played Russian roulette with their careers before. It's clear when Anna seeks out Stephen and introduces herself that her attachment to Martyn (Graves) was simply to get to him - and she does -immediately. All they can do is stare at one another. When she invites him to her apartment, she is sitting on the edge of her bed. Seeing him, she sinks to the floor, her arms outstretched. Because she never wears underwear, they can usually have sex with most of their clothes on and have it anywhere - street corners, tables, Stephen's father-in-law's house. The sex isn't particularly erotic to watch; it's awkward-looking because of the frenzy involved. Part of the obsession for Stephen is the unleashing of passion that's been sublimated; part of it is the danger - and is part of it having something he didn't have in his own youth that his son has now? Does he look at Martyn and see that Martyn's life is ahead of him and that he, Stephen, is no longer "young?" Possible. Is he angry with Martyn for replacing him in his wife's affections? Perhaps. For Anna, the motives and thrills are different - due to a tragedy in her life involving her brother who apparently was in love with her too, she is playing some weird psychological game in which there is no real winner. The acting is marvelous - Binoche is exquisitely dressed though some of those marvelous clothes are ripped off of her - she brings an exotic, androgynous and mysterious quality to the role of Anna. Irons is excellent as an up-tight father and half-crazed lover. Leslie Caron has a small role as Anna's mother. She's lovely as ever and strong in a dramatic role of a woman who drinks a little but who nevertheless has Stephen's number. The last 30 minutes of this movie are some of the most shattering moments in film, and what makes them so shattering is not only the situation but the absolutely devastating, visceral, no holds barred performance by Miranda Richardson. She is ably supported by a writer and director who both knew something about profound pain. Her performance is great - that she had the material to give that performance and a director who let her go makes this film truly unforgettable. When Damage is over, you won't be the person you were when you started watching it. It's so rare nowadays to see such a fascinating, character-driven film. It will stay with you for a long time.
Drama / Romance
Drama / Romance
A member of Parliament falls passionately in love with his son's fiancée despite the dangers of discovery.
June 15, 2020