About The (Ex)perience of Love

by Damien Leblanc

Rémy and Sandra lead a quiet life together. Struggling to conceive, they are taken aback upon discovering that they suffer from a bizarre ailment: to overcome their limitations, they must have sex with all of their exes… The two Belgian directors, Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni, cast a new spell on romantic comedy with this new, contemporary, tender, moving, and irresistibly funny tale that pushes the heterosexual envelope to reinvent love. 

Interview with Ann Sirot et Raphaël Balboni

“Since the film seeks to challenge heteronormativity and to reflect on how - most - people experience both being in a relationship and family life, we chose two canons of heteronormativity: the injunction to procreate and sexual exclusivity. And then we placed the characters in a situation where they can’t have both. We thought it would create an experience in which this couple could not meet these two heteronormative standards. If they want to have children, they need to forgo being exclusive. And if they want to be exclusive, they must forgo having a baby. It’s an intellectual game, if you will. 

We needed to find a balance between drama and more colourful moments. We wanted to address the topic in depth and have the characters sometimes go through painful moments. We met and involved the actors - Lucie Debay and Lazare Gousseau - very early in the process so as to build the tone of the film together, bit by bit. In our previous film, Madly in Life, it was a matter of life and death, this one is a romantic comedy. It isn’t as serious but you still worry that heartbreak may shatter these characters. 

We wanted sensual pleasure to emanate from the sex scenes. We had a lot of fun with our choreographer and our costume, production, and lighting designers: we formed a group whose job it was to find different ways to make love and the various atmospheres that would suit each sequence. 

The character of Rémi needs to come to terms with his feelings of inadequacy regarding his sexual past. Masculine norms require men to have a specific kind of sexual drive, which Rémi just doesn’t have. Similarly, Sandra’s sexuality doesn’t match what is expected of her and she must also accept to let it go, on her own terms. We try to turn gender-based standards on their heads and to distort some common situations so that these tiny changes allow the audience to relate.”