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Postcoital Hysteria

Postcoital Hysteria

Postcoital Hysteria

by Andrea Meyer

Brigitte Rouan, writer, director and lead actress of “Post Coitum, Animal Triste” spoke at a press
conference for the New York Film Festival last week, accompanied by her producer Humbert Balsan. Following
her first feature “Overseas,” which was shown at New Directors/ New Films in 1991, Rouan, who is best
known as an actress in films by Jacques Rivette, Bertrand Tavernier, Alain Resnais, and Agnieska Holland,
set out to make a film about what she calls “Queen Victoria falling down from her throne.” In other words,
Diane Clovier, an accomplished editor in a Paris publishing house, who has the perfect husband, children,
and life, becomes involved in an intense sexual relationship with a thirty-year-old dreamboat and totally
falls apart. Her sexual obsession leads to disaster when the affair inevitably ends and she finds herself
incapable of letting her Romeo (or, in this case, Emilio) go. It’s a film about swooning and post-swoon

Rouan co-wrote the emotionally precise and at times melodramatic script with four men (Santiago Amigorena,
Jean-Louis Richard, Guy Zilberstein, and Philippe Le Guay). She says she needed them to “defend the boys,”
or rather, to create multi-dimensional male characters. The result is a realistic look at many perspectives
on erotic obsession and infidelity, that has received mixed reviews especially from male audiences.

Rouan has received bundles of letters from viewers expressing both praise and disapproval. One man who
expected a “girlie movie” wrote to say if this is a girlie film, then he’s a girl, because he has suffered
just like Diane. Many married men in their 50’s, however, (the age of Diane’s jilted husband) have labeled
Rouan “bitch” and accused her character of not thinking before acting and thus deserving her pain. In one
case, Rouan was accosted in a restaurant by a middle-aged man who’d been lured to see the film by its
titillating title. Upset about Diane’s easy orgasms, he accused Rouan of creating a totally unrealistic
film, a sick fantasy. Rouan responded, eying the sexy young woman on his arm, “You like fresh flesh? Well,
so do we.” The director seems pleased about the controversy.

With a budget of approximately 10 million French francs ($2 million), the film was shot chronologically,
allowing the actress Rouan to live through her character’s development, from bliss to psychosis and
crawling reluctantly back towards normalcy, without being forced to switch emotional gears. So far, the
film has been well-received in France and on the festival circuit. After traveling to Cannes, Toronto,
and Montreal, “Post Coitum” was released theatrically in Paris in the beginning of September. For the
moment, there are no plans for an American release.

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