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Intimacy is a French notion of the contemporary English working class. No sophisticated chatter and discreet fornication for writer-director Patrice Chereau, here making his first English-language film; when middle-aged lovers Jay (Globe Theatre Artistic Director Mark Rylance) and Claire (fearless Kerry Fox) meet every Wednesday afternoon in the former’s disheveled row house, clothes are torn off, barely a word is spoken, and nothing—well, very little—is hidden. Adapted by Chereau and Anne-Louise Trividic from Hanif Kureishi’s novel and a related story, “Nightlight,” Intimacy is a little bit Last Tango in Paris, although this is clearly not Paris: The film is set mostly in the grim environs of South London. Jay is a Soho bar manager who recently (and blankly) left his wife and two young sons; Claire is an aspiring actress with an outgoing taxi-driver husband, Andy (Timothy Spall), and a son about the age of Jay’s older one. Not that Claire tells Jay any of this. He becomes curious about his enigmatic lover and begins to follow her, eventually meeting Andy and seeing Claire play Laura in a pub-basement production of The Glass Menagerie. Not sure what he’s looking for, Jay becomes a regular at the pub, where he begins asking Andy leading questions about infidelity. In a sense, these squirm-inducing talks are more intimate than the sex Jay’s been having with Andy’s wife—or his erotic adventures with a giggling younger woman and a pair of his ex-wife’s underpants. Claire soon spots Jay, and Andy figures out that Jay knows Claire, but neither discovery leads to the emotional breakthrough Jay seeks—and probably wouldn’t comprehend if it ever occurred. If the theatrical metaphor is flagrant, the film is otherwise naturalistic, a slice of obsessive life that never even bothers to explain how Jay and Claire met. The film has an intimate look, as well; it was shot mostly with handheld camera that clings to the characters even when they’re screwing, impassively observing their non-aerobized, unretouched flesh. The result is limber and bracing, with a mostly hip, mostly British rock score augmented by a Marianne Faithfull cameo. Intimacy’s lack of an ending is less effective than its omitted beginning, but, then, both spiritually and geographically, Jay and Claire do hail from Britain’s version of No Exit-Ville. —Mark Jenkins