Louise Malle’s Damage is a film I have been meaning to see since it was first released, nearly 20 years ago, but I didn’t get to it until today. At the time it was release I had just discovered Jeremy Irons in Kakfa, which had be quite obsessed. Damage also got far more press in the American media than most European films due to the many graphic sex scenes between Irons and Juliette Binoche—and there are many.
I finally got around to seeing it now in order to continue indulging my addiction to Jeremy Iron’s voice. Despite all the controversy at the time of release, this is not an especially erotic film. Although its main theme is erotic obsession and there are many sex scenes, they are mostly squirm-inducing, as the story is about a respectable middle-aged politician sleeping with his own son’s girlfriend. The sex scenes are pretty intense, though, and lesser actors than Irons and Binoche would have made them laughably ridiculous. Malle’s direction and pacing is masterful, but even he at times shows a slight lack of restraint, such as the scene when Irons collapses on a bed after seeing his son kiss the woman he loves.
While watching this, I couldn’t really understand why Miranda Richardson, who plays the wife and mother of the two men involved in the love triangle, won a BAFTA and was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar. She seems to only occasionally drifts through the film to prove that she is still oblivious to the affair. But then near the end of the film comes her spotlight performance, after the affair has torn her family, and herself apart, and she lets her rage seep up through her stolid façade. Then I didn’t understand why she didn’t get the Oscar, especially as she lost out to Marisa Tomei.