Karlovy Vary: Monia Chokri on bringing the female perspective to sex in 'The Nature of Love'

Karlovy Vary: Monia Chokri on bringing the female perspective to sex in ‘The Nature of Love’

Canadian director Monia Chokri dislikes Hollywood romance films that glorify unavailable men who eventually become the prize of the women who pursue them.

“It was done, so I don’t need to do another one Pretty Woman,” he says contemptuously The Hollywood Reporter From The nature of lovea French-language film about two people of different classes who fall visibly in love, which screened in the Horizons section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival following its world premiere at Cannes.

For Chokri, romance is a surrogate for female expression as her tragicomedy addresses how women see themselves sexually and behave around men. “It’s about what she hears in her mind,” says the director of Sophia, a 40-year-old philosophy professor from Montreal played by Magalie Lépine-Blondeau.

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Sophia is in a stable, but sexless, relationship with her partner Xavier (Francis William Rheaume), but finds her sexual desire reawakened, as if from a coma, when she falls in love with Sylvain, played by Pierre Eves Cardinal, a charismatic handyman. her in a flannel shirt and jeans as she renovates her new country cottage.

As their torrid relationship unfolds and their worlds are turned upside down, Sophia as a strong female character becomes a blend of sensuality, intelligence and wit as society’s much-contested boundaries around monogamy and affairs are explored with a mixture of comedy and drama .

Rather than have Sophia in sex scenes scantily clad or naked and in various compromising positions, Chokri’s camera rarely leaves Lépine-Blondeau’s face or words during their intimacy. “The sex scenes are pretty vocal. It’s more about what they say than what we see. We know she is excited. It’s not about that. She’s about what she hears in her mind,” explains the director.

Conversely, Chokri points to Sam Levinson’s controversial HBO drama the idol, where Lily Rose Deep in the scenes where she masturbates she fixates on her own body. “I did the opposite. I do not want to say The idol it’s wrong. But that way is quite classic, objectifying a woman’s body,” she explains.

“That’s why when my character masturbates, she sees Sylvain’s body parts, not herself,” adds Chokri. But beyond a wealthy woman in a midlife crisis who indulges in romantic longing for her as both lovers seek to free themselves from their intellectual and class divides, The nature of love he asks the film’s audience, if opposites attract, can it last?

“When you meet someone passionately, you project a lot of things onto this person, which can be your total fantasy. And then comes real life,” she notes. “As they start thinking about their worlds that come from their own values, it starts to get harder and more brittle,” adds Chokri as Sophia and Sylvain during the second half of the film become less physical and more focused on a future together where, having previously succumbed to sexual desire, they may have to abandon it in order to get married.

The nature of love is Chokri’s third feature film after the actress-turned-director’s second film, Babysitterbowed at Sundance.

About her next project, which is only now being written, the Canadian director has been secretive, except to say that it will be shot in France in co-production with Marie-Ange Luciani, producer of Justin Triet’s Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a fall.