Jeff Giles
April 12, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Damage

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Juliette Binoche, Jeremy Irons
director
Louis Malle
author
Josephine Hart
genre
Erotic, Drama

We gave it a B-

Josephine Hart’s Damage, which has been the most heavily hyped debut in recent memory, turns out to be the ordinary story of a buttoned-up man who gets undone by something wild. The book is narrated by a prim, nameless British politician engaged in a metaphysically charged affair with his son’s fiancée, Anna Barton. The narrator’s wife, Ingrid, floats at the periphery of this story, as does his son, Martyn, with whom he has an outsize Oedipal rivalry. Damage is a competent tale of sex and death, the sort of thing Iris Murdoch could have written in a weekend. The narrator and Anna have just met when suddenly they’re behaving as if they had known each other in a previous life, and we’re told, ”I bit and tore and held her, round and round, as we rose and fell, rose and fell into the wilderness.” Here, as elsewhere, Hart cuts to the chase when we’re still not sure why everybody’s running. B-

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