“Qu’est-ce que tu veux monsieur?”
Anne Fontaine’s Nathalie… doesn’t have the greatest of reputations but I have to say I rather like the film, so very typically French in its study of middle class angst, extra-marital affairs and sexual obsession. Fanny Ardant plays icily cool gynaecologist Catherine whose marriage to Gerard Dépardieu’s Bernard has grown a little stale, her suspicions at his increasing absences eventually proved when she finds evidence of adultery on his phone.
So naturally she contracts a prostitute, Emmanuelle Béart’s Marlene who is swiftly renamed Nathalie, to meet up with her husband, seduce him and then tell her all about it. This then awakens something in Catherine’s own sexuality which encourages her to develop a somewhat unhealthy relationship to an already twisted set-up as she has an affair by proxy with her husband, as well as an actual affair with another man.
Matters are further complicated by the inscrutable nature of Marlene/Nathalie too, wonderfully portrayed by Béart, as we remain unsure exactly who is being manipulated by who and there’s a controlled intensity that we don’t always see from Ardant which is delightful to behold. The scenes between these women are what makes the movie a real pleasure as their power game unfolds and constantly shifts beneath them.