chapter  10
The fear of exposure and connection: Intimacy
Pages 15

Since the mid 1990s, there’s been a steady stream of films, in what might be called ‘the wounded male’ genre, that deal with folding back, entering into and recovering a sidetracked libido. While examples like American Beauty (1999), Magnolia (1999), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), Solaris (2002), About Schmidt (2002) and In my Father’s Den (2004) look at either men’s rejection of, or inability to handle, qualities often culturally fixed to that wooly term ‘the feminine’, Patrice Chéreau’s Intimacy (2001) doesn’t buy into any preconceived ideas of sex/gender disavowal appropriateness. The film adds another dimension to its emotionally floundering centerpiece, the relationship of ‘Jay’ and ‘Claire’, by working under the surface of the renunciationreintegration equation. The problem isn’t that these characters don’t engage in the eroticism and force of the eros love/sex paradigm, or that they totally disavow these overwhelming energies, Jay and Claire’s real frustration is their desire and resistance to lock onto and move within these experiences. They replicate the tricksterish, teflon play of eros by freefalling through, rather than into, the other. Their lust becomes an animating pulse that forces them into an intensely intimate relationship with the ‘bonding agent’ I’ll be referring to as anima.