I'm not sure if Barbet Schroeder wouldn't have preferred simply making a documentary about S/M rather than enfolding the S/M segments within a rather traditional love story, but I'm glad he chose the latter.
I was never a big fan of Gérard Depardieu, but found him to be wonderfully engaging in his role as Olivier, a young thief content to be kept by a somewhat older, much more industrious working woman, Ariane (played by Bulle Ogier). If this were an American movie, Olivier would be driven crazy by Ariane's profession, but Olivier accepts her job, enjoys the comfortable lifestyle it affords him, and occasionally helps Ariane out on her gigs, with sometimes hilarious results.
The only obstacle thwarting the course of their true love is a mysterious man who calls Ariane on her private line, to whom she pays a good bit of her earnings. Olivier finally takes some bumbling initiative in finding and confronting this man, with mixed results. He doesn't understand what he's getting himself into, because Ariane has not been completely honest with him.
In the end, though, persistence pays off, and Olivier and Ariane end up together, happy, and only slightly damaged.
I highly recommend this to fans of Depardieu and those interested in the career of director Barbet Schroeder. My only disappointment in the DVD is that there is only one special feature, a delightful interview with Schroder.
Warning: this film contains explicit scenes showing S/M sessions featuring cross-dressing, shoe fetishism, nudity, whipping, genital torture and ecstasy. There is also a very distressing scene of animal slaughter which puts the S/M scenes into perspective.