Damage (1992 film)

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Theatrical poster
Directed by Louis Malle
Produced by Louis Malle
Screenplay by David Hare
Based on Damage 
by Josephine Hart
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • 9 December 1992 (1992-12-09) (France)
  • 5 February 1993 (1993-02-05) (UK)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Box office $7,532,911 (US)[1]
£1,908,050 (UK)[2]

Damage is a 1992 British-French film directed by Louis Malle and starring Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, and Miranda Richardson. Based on the novel Damage by Josephine Hart, the film is about a British politician who shares a sexual relationship with his son's girlfriend. Miranda Richardson was nominated for an Academy Award and won a BAFTA in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the aggrieved wife of the film's main character.


Dr. Stephen Fleming, a British Member of Parliament, lives a pleasant life with his wife Ingrid and young daughter Sally. His older son, Martyn, is a rising journalist. At a party, Stephen meets a young half-French woman named Anna Barton, who introduces herself as a close friend of Martyn's; it is apparent, however, that Stephen and Anna are instantly attracted to each other. When Martyn visits his parents in London, he brings Anna with him, revealing that they are romantically involved. The sexual tension between Stephen and Anna is clear, though their partners are oblivious of this. Despite her relationship with Martyn, Anna arranges a tryst with Stephen at her apartment.

Stephen's obsession with Anna deepens. After an international summit adjourns in Brussels, he travels to Paris to meet her instead of going home. While Martyn is sleeping in a Paris hotel room, Stephen and Anna have sex in an open doorway in broad daylight. Afterwards, Stephen checks into a hotel across the street from Anna and Martyn's, spying on the couple through his window. Eventually, his infatuation reaches a point where he desires to be with Anna permanently, even at the risk of destroying his relationship with his son. Anna dissuades Stephen from doing this, assuring him that as long as she is with Martyn, he will always have access to her.

During a visit to Anna's apartment, Stephen finds that another man named Peter is already present. Peter tells him that they are former lovers. A jealous Stephen initially assumes that Anna is cheating on him and, when Peter leaves, confronts her. Anna denies carrying on with Peter, and then describes in detail the death of her brother, who had committed suicide after expressing an incestuous desire for her. She recounts that she had compulsively slept with Peter in order to grieve over her brother's death, which she had witnessed. Stephen is placated by this explanation, and the couple once again have sex.

The Flemings travel to their country estate to celebrate Ingrid's birthday. During a meal there, Martyn announces his engagement to Anna, which visibly disturbs Stephen. That night, after Stephen receives oral sex from Anna, Sally catches them outside of Anna's room. Soon after, an anxious Stephen lies to Sally about what she saw, telling her that he was merely trying to console Anna about the upcoming marriage. Later, the Flemings have an awkward lunch with Anna's mother, who notices the awkward behavior between Anna and Stephen. She correctly deduces that they are having an affair and, during a car ride with Stephen, warns him to put an end to it.

Stephen initially complies and calls Anna to end their relationship. He tries to confess his misdeeds to both Martyn and Ingrid, but shies away from doing so both times. However, after Stephen succumbs to temptation and anonymously phones Anna's apartment, she mails him keys to a renovated flat where they can meet. When Anna visits his home, she tells Stephen that she could not marry Martyn without being with him. They go to the flat at an appointed time and begin another raucous tryst, but Martyn — having been guided to the flat by chance — finds them in bed together. Stunned, he falls over a stairway railing and plunges to his death. A devastated Stephen clutches Martyn's body while Anna silently leaves the scene.

Stephen's affair is exposed and becomes the subject of a media frenzy, with a mob of reporters convening outside his house. Inside, an anguished Ingrid reacts to the day's events by questioning whether he had ever been in love with her. It is strongly suggested that their marriage ends. Stephen, now publicly disgraced, is also forced to resign from his cabinet position. He meets Anna's mother at a hotel and finds that Anna is staying with her; they say nothing as they meet for the last time. Stephen withdraws himself from public life and retires to an unknown location in Europe. In narration, he reveals that Anna now has a child with Peter. In his flat, a photo of himself with Anna and Martyn, blown up to life size, hangs on his wall.


Box office[edit]

The film was released on Christmas Day, 1992, and grossed $101,707 in four theaters in the opening weekend. It went on to gross $7,532,911 in the USA.[1]

The film made an overall loss during its theatrical release.[2]


External links[edit]