Swann in Love (1984)

Swann in Love (1984), directed by Volker Schlöndorff.

I read Swann's Way years ago, but the only part I remember is the middle section called "Swann in Love", which is about his obsessive and degrading love for Odette, a courtesan. There is a special Hell for jealous lovers and Proust meticulously mapped it down to the wallpaper.

The film is more sexually explicit than the book, and the dialogue covers matters which Swann only suspects and fears in the text: that Odette works at brothels part time, that she goes with women, etc.

Jeremy Irons speaks his own French and is, as always, good at aristocratic languor and suppressed longing. Ornella Muti, last seen as Princess Aura in Flash Gordon (1980), is a mysterious and sad-eyed Odette. She's in the love business and obviously has to keep her options open, much to Swann's irritation. She contributes a bit of nudity and some passion scenes.

Slow paced, just like the book. Proust wrote in bed and didn't care how long it took to read him. It's mostly conversation and situations.

Photographed by Sven Nykvist.