The Nature of Love (2023) (Simple Comme Sylvain)

The Nature of Love directed by Monia Chokri is a modern Canadian romcom, seen from a woman’s point of view, with a contemporary twist.

Love in a Snowy Climate

by Alexa Dalby

The Nature of Love

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

What is love? Is it ‘boring’, cerebral, routine married love, the elderly love for a life partner that fears their loss through dementia or full-throttle sexual attraction and physical lust that transcends social obligations?

Well… ! Sophia (40-ish Magalie Lépine Blondeau, Sans rendez-vous), part-time university lecturer on the philosophy of love, married to another academic, meets and unexpectedly and cataclysmically falls for Sylvain (brutally and elementally sexy Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Tom at the Farm), the blue-collar workman on her and her husband’s weekend house in the country. It overturns her life. It’s a lustful meeting, not of minds, which are all too different, seen from the woman’s perspective, with enthusiastic sex concentrating on her face and its expressions, not her body.

What about such an unsuited relationship in the long term? Sophia and Sylvain are worlds apart, classes apart, intellectually apart. When they meet each other’s families and friends – so different from each other – can their relationship survive Sylvain’s taste in shirts, lack of education, sophistication and unconscious racism? Can there be an ending for Sophia and Sylvain as with the Douglas Sirk and Rock Hudson’s All That Heaven Allows or will it be like Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven?

Directed by Monia Chokri, The Nature of Love is a sharp take on the usual romcom. It interrogates notions of love in the present day. The director herself, a well-known actress in Canada, plays a harassed wife, Sophia’s best friend Françoise.

The Nature of Love premiered at Cannes in Un Certain Regard, screened at the BFI London Film Festival, and is released on 5 July 2024 in the UK.

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