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‘Love and Bruises’

by Giovanni Fazio

Why do we fall for people who are clearly wrong for us? Why does sex blind us to the fatal flaws in a relationship? How can you choose a lover if you don’t really know what you want?

Answer to that last one: You don’t, you just fall into something. Lou Ye’s latest portrait of obsessive lust, based on the autobiographical novel “Bitch” by Jie Liu-falin (banned in China), follows a 28-year-old named Hua (Corinne Yam) who has left Beijing to teach in Paris. Hot on the rebound after being dumped, she meets construction worker Mathieu (Tahar Rahim, “Un Prophete”) by chance and agrees to go to dinner with him; he basically date-rapes her afterwards; she discovers a taste for rough sex, and the two embark on a tempestuous relationship that yields betrayal after betrayal.

Rahim and Yam deliver the goods, he the blue-collar ruffian who is all too easily hurt, an insecure guy prone to jealous rage; she, the university girl who’s been dumped enough to think that being possessed is a good thing, and whose indecision keeps her flitting from lover to lover, city to city. Lou continues to focus on sex as a revealing aspect of his characters with good results, but whatever the film does right is ruined by the dizzying, nearly unwatchable handheld cinematography by Nelson Yu Lik-wai.