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(1998) (Brigitte Rouan, Boris Terral) (Not Rated)

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Drama: A middle-aged, married woman has an affair with a much younger man.
Diane Clovier (BRIGITTE ROUAN) is a middle-aged book publisher. Married to Philippe (PATRICK CHESNAIS), a trial lawyer, and with two teenage kids, she seemingly has a good life but isn't romantically satisfied. While working with one of her authors, Francois (NILS TAVERNIER), who suffers from writer's block because he can't write female characters, Diane meets his roommate, Emilio (BORIS TERRAL), a hydraulic engineer who mainly works in third world countries. He's immediately drawn to her, but she embarrassedly refuses his advances, for although she and her husband sleep in separate beds, they're still married.

Even so, Philippe's absences while he defends a neighbor lady, Madame Lepluche (FRANCOISE ARNOUL), who stabbed her philandering husband to death, and Emilio's constant advances eventually wear down Diane's defenses and they begin a passionate affair. Yet, when things begin to go south for them, Diane tumbles into a depressive state that adversely affects not only her relationship with Emilio, but also her job and family.

A subtitled French film about a middle-aged woman having an affair won't draw many kids.
The MPAA didn't rate this film, but if they had they would have given it an R for sexual situations, nudity, and brief, but heavy profanity.
  • BRIGITTE ROUAN plays a married publisher who begins a passionate affair with a younger man and then falls into a deep depression when that relationship begins to wane. Along the way she smokes and drinks.
  • BORIS TERRAL plays a young hydraulic engineer who pursues and seduces Diane although he knows that she's married.
  • PATRICK CHESNAIS plays the loving husband who slowly figures out his wife is having an affair.


    OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
    Any time a film opens with a female cat meowing in heat and then cuts to the human protagonist in a similar condition in bed, you know you're in for a strange, offbeat, and most likely foreign film. That's the case with "Post Coitum," a French film whose original title includes the addition of "Animal Triste" at the end. Loosely meaning "after sex, sad animal," this is a racy, often oddly funny, but ultimately disappointing film.

    Until the last third of the picture when the main character goes into a deep depression over the "loss" of her new lover, the film plays out like a no holds barred, big screen version of the TV show "Ally McBeal." If you can imagine the title character from that show ten to fifteen years from now after having traded in her law books to become a publisher, moving to France, getting married and having two kids, but still suffering from romantic angst, then you've pretty much got this movie.

    Featuring similar, but not as many fantasy elements, much more explicit sexual encounters (that can't be shown on TV), and a main character who is a sexy and successful professional woman who's saddled with emotional and romantic anguish, this could easily be France's version of that show. For example, after having her romantic fire rekindled, Diane is literally on "cloud nine" as we see her floating along on a cloud a foot or so in the air -- just as you would imagine on the TV show.

    In a later scene where she's despondent over having been jilted herself, she sits in a park and watches the world go by. The problem is, however, that the park is full of happy couples -- young ones, old ones, some holding hands, others making out, and the more she looks around, the more couples she sees. Even in the scene where the older woman stabs her husband in the neck with a carving fork, you expect this to be a daydream or fantasy of sorts, and it takes a while before you finally accept it as reality.

    Brigitte Rouan, who not only stars in, but also directs and co-wrote the film, takes that violent and jarring scene and uses it to symbolize the central story. While such symbolism is occasionally heavy handed, for the most part it works in helping expand the main plot. In addition to having the protagonist's husband defend the woman for murdering her philandering husband -- where he gleans information on the ways and results of proving an affair -- the protagonist also has a writer client who has writer's block concerning one of his female characters because he doesn't understand women.

    The best moment, however, is one of the shortest and that's when Diane's teenage son allegorically confronts her about her infidelities. He tells a brief story about a mouse that had its tail cut off while near some railroad tracks. Not noticing this until he got home, the rodent went back to the tracks looking for his tail when his head is then cut off. As his mother blankly looks at him, the son then tells her the moral of the story: "You can lose your head while chasing tail."

    That's what happens to this character as she starts to lose her mind in depression as her new love leaves for a six-month job overseas and thus ends their relationship. From that moment on, the film loses all of its momentum, and while it tries to inject a few fantasy elements, they're on the somber side and can't resurrect what had been an interesting, near farce-like production. Consequently, the film never recovers from this one hundred and eighty-degree turn.

    Rouan, as the main character, is quite good throughout much of the film. Since the movie never quite goes far enough in that "Ally McBeal" direction, though, the moments of her agony and anguish while writhing on her bed occasionally approach a level of ludicrousness. While we're supposed to understand that she's an addict undergoing withdrawal from her "drug" -- Emilio -- her reactions aren't quite realistic enough for these moments to be completely believable since they border on being absurd. Even so, Rouan's performance, for the most part, is compelling. The supporting performances are also good all around, with Terral convincingly playing the young stud and Patrick Chesnais delivering a believable take as the jilted husband.

    What makes this film interesting is that instead of portraying the stereotypically "normal" male mid-life crisis, the tables have been turned here and it's the premenopausal woman who gets her jollies from a younger member of the opposite sex. Even so, writer/director Rouan never appears sure whether to fully embrace the "McBeal" fantasy qualities or go for a regular romantic drama, and thus the film suffers from something of an identity disorder.

    Had it further continued with those imagined and symbolic moments, it might have worked better than it does. It's a decent enough film (not in morals but overall production quality), but the irresolute manner in which it proceeds will undoubtedly leave some audiences perplexed and others smirking at its goofy nature. While we understood what it's trying to do, the film doesn't quite succeed. We give "Post Coitum" a 5.5 out of 10.

    Although it's doubtful many kids will want to see this subtitled foreign film, here's a quick look at the content. We see several sexual encounters (some of which are quite graphic with movement and sounds) and see even more instances of nudity. There's one very brief instance of bloody violence when a woman stabs her husband in the neck with a carving fork, and profanity is heavy with 2 "f" words used sexually, 10+ "s" words and several others. Beyond that, there are also several tense family moments, as well as moderate amounts of drinking and smoking.

  • Lepluche has wine with dinner right before his wife stabs him.
  • People drink at a reception.
  • Diane and Emilio have wine with dinner.
  • Diane, Emilio, his grandfather and another man have drinks.
  • Some guys at a bar drink beer and Diane has a shot of fig brandy. Later, we see her in another bar and she's having a shot of tequila. Even later, she's rather drunk and stumbles home.
  • Diane and Francois drink in a bar.
  • We see several scenes where Diane has many empty liquor bottles around her.
  • Francois and Diane drink champagne, and later have wine with a meal.
  • Madame Lepluche suddenly stabs her husband in the neck with a carving fork and quite a bit of blood gushes out (we only see this for a few seconds, but we see it twice).
  • Obviously Diane and Emilio have both as they carry on a torrid affair and Diane does everything to conceal it from her husband, including lying to him.
  • Both Lepluche and his wife have both as he cheated on her for years, and she killed him for wanting a divorce.
  • Diane leaves some sort of excrement at Emilio's door.
  • Madame Lepluche suddenly stabs her husband in the neck with a carving fork and quite a bit of blood gushes out (we only see this for a few seconds, but we see it twice).
  • Carving Fork: Used by a wife to stab her husband in the neck, killing him.
  • Phrases (all in English subtitles): "Screwing" and "Hard on" (sexual), "Bastard," "Bitch" (Diane calls herself that and Francois makes a comment about "randy bitches"), "Screw you" (said playfully), "Piss" and "Shut up."
  • Emilio tells Diane, "I had a piss in the sink," to which she replies "How disgusting" (but we don't see anything).
  • Diane leaves some sort of excrement at Emilio's door.
  • A person purposefully falls backwards from a high seaside cliff, believing the "lover's leap" will cure them of their lovesickness (they aren't hurt).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • The following all occur in English subtitles: 2 "f" words (both used sexually as is the word "screwing"), 12 "s" words, 3 asses, 1 hell, and 2 uses of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes" and "God" as exclamations.
  • We see Diane in her bed with her hand at her clothed crotch, possibly masturbating.
  • A woman gets out of Francois' bed and we see her pull on her underwear (but no other nudity).
  • Diane and Emilio passionately make out in a restaurant bathroom. We see lots of passionate kissing and groping, but aren't sure whether they ultimately have sex or not.
  • In a steamy and sensuous sequence, we see Diane and Emilio on a bed making out and he feels her clothed breast. We then see her bare breasts in her negligee. They then have sex and we see her bare breasts, his bare butt, and a few brief moments of him between her legs. We also see lots of movement and hear even more sounds as she climaxes.
  • We see parts of Madame Lepluche's bare breasts as she covers them with her hands while in prison.
  • We see part of Diane's breast as she watches Emilio shave (both are nude, but we don't see anything else).
  • Diane lies nude on top of Emilio, who's also nude, but other than seeing part of her breast, nothing else happens.
  • We briefly see Diane's bare breast as she scrambles to get into bed before her husband enters the room.
  • Philippe asks Diane, "If you're screwing someone, would you use a condom?"
  • While talking on the phone, Emilio tells Diane, "I've got a hard on."
  • We see Emilio's pleasured reactions to Diane giving him oral sex (we only see his face and body and then see her head come up from his crotch).
  • Madame Lepluche's cellmate could be masturbating in the bunk above her (or perhaps sobbing) as we hear strange noises and Lepluche sees the mattress above her moving.
  • Francois tells Diane that he doesn't understand women's motivations and says perhaps that's because he's "never been penetrated." Diane tries to explain and in doing so says (among other things), "Some women get all wet talking on the phone."
  • We see Diane and Emilio passionately kissing and groping while standing up in her hotel room and it's implied that they have sex.
  • Later, we see the two of them cuddled together in bed (they're nude) and we see just part of his bare butt and part of her bare breasts.
  • We see near full frontal nudity of Emilio as he lies in bed (we see his pubic hair).
  • We see Diane's bare breasts as she takes a bath.
  • Drunk, and stumbling up the staircase to her home, Diane begins undressing in the darkened stairwell and we see glimpses of her bare breasts.
  • Diane has a vision of many couples in a park and one of them is heavily making out with the guy feeling the woman's clothed butt.
  • Diane undresses in front of her mirror (we see her bare breasts) and she asks herself, "Am I still f*ckable?"
  • Diane smokes quite often as the story progresses, Francois occasionally smokes, and Emilio and some background characters also smoke.
  • Diane's affair with Emilio puts a great strain on her family. At first her husband is suspicious, but after uncovering enough facts, he eventually moves out. Her son then confronts her and says that it's her fault that Philippe left.
  • As Diane dips into depression over Emilio, Philippe eventually takes the kids from her as well. When they later come to visit her on Mother's Day, they find her passed out on the floor and they immediately leave.
  • Obviously Madame Lepluche and her husband had problems as she stabs him to death after he's announced that he wants a divorce (after years of philandering).
  • Extramarital affairs and the damage they do to the individuals directly involved, but also to other people close by.
  • Madame Lepluche suddenly stabs her husband in the neck with a carving fork and quite a bit of blood gushes out (this is only seen for a few seconds, but we see it twice).
  • Diane hits Emilio hard enough to knock him to the floor.
  • Angry over Diane's wandering ways, Philippe repeatedly kicks holes in a door and tears at it with his hands.

  • Reviewed April 27, 1998

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