Theatrical release poster
Directed byCatherine Breillat
Written byCatherine Breillat
Produced byJean-François Lepetit
CinematographyYorgos Arvanitis
Edited byAgnès Guillemot
Music by
  • Raphaël Tidas
  • DJ Valentin
Distributed byRézo Films
Release date
  • 17 April 1999 (1999-04-17) (France)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Budget$2.7 million
Box office$3.9 million[2]

Romance (Romance X) is a 1999 French arthouse film written and directed by Catherine Breillat. It stars Caroline Ducey, Rocco Siffredi, Sagamore Stévenin and François Berléand. The film features explicit copulation scenes,[3] especially one showing Ducey's coitus with Siffredi. Romance is one of several arthouse films featuring explicit, unsimulated sex, along with The Brown Bunny (2003), 9 Songs (2004)[4] and All About Anna (2005).


Marie, a school teacher, is in a romantic relationship with Paul, but she is disappointed in his comparative lack of interest in sexual activity. One morning, Marie drives to a bar, where she meets Paolo; the two later have sex.

One day, Roberto, the headmaster, brings Marie to her house. The two begin engaging in BDSM until Marie asks him to stop, though she confesses to have imagined what it's like to be bound and implies that she enjoyed being gagged. On the way home, a man forcibly has sex with Marie in the stairway; he leaves right as Paul returns, but the latter does not see her.

Upon returning home after a session with Roberto, Paul demonstrates interest in sex and manages to accidentally impregnate Marie. After one checkup during which the doctor reveals the baby's gender, the couple have sex for the first time in months – but also last.

After an unhappy night out to a bar, Marie wakes up about to go into labor but Paul is out cold. Frustrated, she turns on the gas and leaves, with Roberto driving her to the hospital. She successfully delivers the child and as expected, Paul dies in the gas explosion. As his coffin is being lowered into the ground, Marie watches from a distance, the baby in her arms.



In an interview with The Post, Catherine Breillat appeared to confirm the rumors of actual on-set sex. "An actor never pretends," she said. "At the same time, I'm not perverse. I don't impose on my actors or actresses any more than is absolutely necessary. But I don't pretend. I don't simulate. The deal was, we'd go as far as we had to, as far as the film required."[5] Caroline Ducey accepted the part of Marie knowing that 'going all the way' was written into her contract. Apparently, Ducey began the film thinking that it would also be an exit from the sexual relationship she was in, but then decided while it was being made that she wanted to stay with her boyfriend. By the end, she was in a state of considerable distress. [6]

Broadcasting and ratings

In Europe, Romance was shown in mainstream cinemas; in the United States, it was reduced to a mainstream-acceptable R rating, and the European original version is un-rated. In the UK, the BBFC passed the film uncut for cinemas, though home releases suffered a brief cut to an ejaculation shot. In March 2004, the original version was broadcast, late-night on German public television. In Australia, the original version of Romance was broadcast uncut on the cable television network World Movies.[citation needed] The film was initially refused classification in Australia, before it was awarded an R18+ on appeal.[7] It single-handedly paved the way for actual sex to be accommodated in the R18+ classification in Australia.[7]

In Canada, particularly in Alberta and the Maritimes, the sexuality was seen as gratuitous to the film and it was given an A rating and XXX rating in those regions.[8][9] In June 2008, in the Netherlands, the original version of Romance was broadcast on Dutch public TV by VPRO as one of a series of Erotica art house cinema.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "ROMANCE (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 19 July 1999. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Romance (1999) – JPBox-Office".
  3. ^ Anne Gillain, "Profile of a Filmmaker: Catherine Breillat" Beyond French Feminisms: debates on women, Politics and Culture in France, 1981 – 2001, edited by Roger Célestin et al. New York: Macmillan (2003): 202. Catherine Breillat's "film Romance had received much praise—and criticism—the previous year for using a porn-film actor and a scene showing a nonsimulated sexual act, including a shot of an erection in the foreground."
  4. ^ "Movies Like 9 Songs (2004)". 2 March 2020.
  5. ^ "A real 'Romance'? : This French flick'S graphic sex scenes aren't just acting, director says". 18 September 1999. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  6. ^ Guardian Staff (3 October 1999). "Coming soon to a cinema near you". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  7. ^ a b "Romance (1999)". Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  8. ^ Film classification listing for Romance at Alberta Film Ratings
  9. ^ Film classification listing for Romance at Maritime Film Classification Board (Rating is listed at bottom)