Despite the fact they've been a committed couple for three and a half years, Sonia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Daniel (Romain Duris) don't even live together. She sleeps alone in a big, polished Paris apartment while Daniel crashes across town in a perpetually in-progress renovation project that she's nicknamed his "secret job site." They rarely see one another. And when they do, it's only to smoke, drink, argue, test the limits of their mutual fidelity, and maybe fuck when it's all over.
Essentially, their relationship is a bizarre, uneven arrangement built to fail. Sonia is cool, remote, and passive-aggressive while Daniel is needy and neurotic. She wants to keep him at a distance. He wants to get closer. It's a cold-hot, push-pull pattern that's repeated, albeit in a grotesquely distorted way, when a semi-homeless, middle-aged man (Jean-Hugues Anglade) develops an obsessive crush on Daniel. This guy, referred to only as "Le Fou" (the Psycho), breaks into Daniel's crashpad, moves in across the street, and stalks him relentlessly around Paris.
In its best moments, Persecution seems to be another in a long line of taut psychological dramas by Patrice Chéreau, the director of 1994's Queen Margot and a 35-year veteran of French cinema. But at its worst, the never-ending relationship drama becomes repetitive. Things stall and the Psycho storyline never ascends to a level of weirdness that might drive it all forward. Chéreau's lucky, however, that he's got Gainsbourg and Duris onscreen, because they're fun to watch even when this movie isn't.
March 6th at 3:45 p.m. and March 13th at 9:15 p.m. Regal South Beach, 1100 Lincoln Road; 305-674-6766. And March 7th at 7:15 p.m. Tower Theater, 1508 SW 8th Street; 305-642-1264.