An erotic French drama about two married couples who swap partners sounds intriguing on the page, but as committed to film by Antony Cordier Four Lovers instead offers little more than soft-core titillation punctuated by tedium.
The story unfolds mostly through the eyes of Rachel (Marina Foïs), a jewelry designer married to Franck (Roschdy Zem), a feng shui expert and writer with whom she has a daughter. Rachel’s flirtations with a website designer, Vincent (Nicolas Duvauchelle) sets up a dinner party that results rather perfunctorily in Rachel and Franck making arrangements with Vincent and his French-American wife Teri (Élodie Bouchez) to enter into an open relationship and swap partners for sexual purposes.
Unfortunately for us, they’re a largely uninteresting, uncomplicated, and not very kinky quartet. Of course, jealousy, boredom, insecurity, and everything else that can befuddle romantic relationships start to creep in, and the logistics of career, family, and what’s essentially a double marriage become physically and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved.
Four Lovers is a visually alluring movie, its naked bodies and idyllic locations beautifully framed and lit, but its story a remote, inert one that fails to engage the viewer. The very real notion that they’re not in love with each other but the group as a whole is a compelling one, and Cordier does a good job in presenting the subtle dynamics of a polyamorous relationship, but does little to explore them in-depth. With dreary voiceover thrown in, it becomes crushingly tedious. It’s a wasted opportunity to tackle a tricky and mildly taboo subject; instead, we’re given a clichéd, tepid pot-boiler about the indiscrete boredom of the bourgeoisie.