Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 26
  2. Negative: 7 out of 26
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  1. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    One of the best films of this year...unlike anything you've seen on the big screen.
  2. Reviewed by: Ray Sawhill
    A landmark -- the first movie to give a convincing, feature-length account of sex from a woman's point of view.
  3. 80
    A dark and unsparing study of female masochism and a brittle sex comedy of manners, Romance is unsettled in tone, to say the least.
  4. No other mainstream movie has so openly tackled the subject of female sexual experience.
  5. 75
    I did not really enjoy this movie, and yet I recommend it. Why? Because I think it's on to something interesting. Here is a movie about a woman who never stops thinking. That may not be as good for you as it is for her.
  6. Despite many flaws...Romance is unquestionably an important film.
  7. 70
    There's never been a movie director like Catherine Breillat, a fearless visionary and one hell of a woman.
  8. The movie is a footnote as well, a minor reference back to the days when people yearned for a cinema that was serious and erotic at the same time.
  9. A singularly cheerless trip, explicit but sterile, racy but dull.
  10. The eroticism is powerful, and the documentary candor and directness of the sex scenes make this well worth seeing.
  11. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    For those who believe that movies are a proper place to explore the riddle of sex, no holds barred, this movie is de rigueur.
  12. 53
    Showing the sex seems to be the film's raison d'etre, which gets you only so far.
  13. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Lots of sex, but little joy.
  14. 50
    A cheerless exercise.
  15. An au natural (read: graphic) tryst-a-thon whose fashion sense is outweighed only by its bulky sexual intellectualism.
  16. It's like watching a bad update of an Antonioni film.
  17. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    Hovers between passion and philosophical argument without fully achieving its ambition to fuse the two.
  18. More cautionary than titillating...some of it (is) deliberately disturbing.
  19. 40
    Visually stunning and breathtakingly frank, but thrill-seekers beware.
  20. The fact that Romance was written and directed by a woman doesn't make the film any better; it simply makes it objectionable on other grounds.
  21. Sex may, indeed, be all in the mind, but Romance fails to score in the mind's eye.
  22. 25
    Catherine Breillat's pretentious, meandering, self-indulgent portrait of a libidinously deprived young woman is nothing more than pornography tricked out as feminist parable.
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It's mostly an ordeal--for actress and audience.
  24. As pretentious as it is hard-core specific, this fiercely anti-erotic film makes even the chilly "Eyes Wide Shut" play like "The Big Easy."
  25. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Exists in some kind of limbo, between hard-core porn and European art film, and it's not likely to satisfy fans of either.
  26. The film so strongly fixates on strange, explicit sexual acts that it forgoes any emotional (i.e. romantic) aspects of sex.

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