ⓘ Damage (1992 film)

Damage (1992 film)

ⓘ Damage (1992 film)

Damage is a 1992 British/French film directed by Louis Malle and starring Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, and Ian Bannen. Based on the novel Damage by Josephine Hart, the film is about a British politician who has a sexual relationship with his sons girlfriend and soon to be fiancee and becomes increasingly obsessed with her. 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 films main character.


1. Plot

Dr. Stephen Fleming Irons, a physician who has entered politics and become a minister, lives in London with wife Ingrid Richardson and daughter Sally Clarke. Their adult son, Martyn Graves, a young journalist, lives elsewhere in London. At a reception, Stephen meets a young woman, named Anna Barton Binoche, daughter of a British diplomat and four-times married Frenchwoman Caron, who "lives in Palm Springs". Anna, who works at Sothebys, introduces herself as a close friend of Martyns: they are instantly attracted to each other. Some time later, Martyn brings Anna to meet his parents at their elegant town house and reveals they are romantically involved. The sexual tension between Stephen and Anna is apparent, although Martyn and his mother seem unaware.

After Anna calls his office, Stephen goes to her mews flat, where they have sex. The following day, Martyn is promoted and Ingrid arranges a celebratory dinner. There, Ingrid seems suspicious and interrogates Anna about her childhood. Anna says her brother, a year older, committed suicide at 16 over "Love." After dinner, Martyn drives Anna home and Stephen follows them. Once Martyn leaves, Stephen enters and tells Anna how much he "wanted to touch her during dinner". They have sex on the floor and in the bed. Anna describes her brother’s death, after he had expressed incestuous desire, saying "he wanted me all to himself and not to grow up." She says damaged people are dangerous and she hates possessiveness. Stephens obsession with Anna deepens; on a whim, he leaves a conference in Brussels to go to Paris where Anna is with Martyn. While Martyn sleeps, Stephen and Anna have sex in a doorway. Afterwards, Stephen moves opposite Anna and Martyn, spying on them. He now wants to be with Anna permanently, even if it destroys his family. Anna dissuades him, assuring him that, as long as she is with Martyn he will always have access to her.

Visiting Annas home, Stephen finds Peter Wetzler Stormare, who tells Stephen that he and Anna are former lovers. A jealous Stephen assumes Anna is cheating, and, when Peter leaves, returns and confronts her. Anna denies it and recounts that, when she witnessed her brother’s suicide, she had fled to Peter and slept with him as a reaction. Stephen is placated and they have sex. The Flemings visit Ingrids father, Edward Lloyd Bannen, who has acted as Stephens political mentor, to celebrate her birthday. Martyn announces his engagement to Anna, which visibly disturbs Stephen. That night, Sally observes him leaving Annas room. An anxious Stephen lies about it, telling Sally he was talking to Anna about the marriage because Ingrid was upset. Later, the Flemings have lunch with Annas mother, Elizabeth, who disparages the marriage and notices the strained behavior between Anna and Stephen. She deduces the affair and warns Stephen to end it.

Stephen initially complies and calls Anna to end their relationship. He tries to confess to Martyn and Ingrid, separately, but fails. Stephen instead succumbs to temptation and phones Anna but hangs up when Martyn answers. Anna rents a small flat so they can meet. She tells Stephen that she could not marry Martyn without being with him. They meet at the flat and begin another tryst, but Martyn - having discovered about the flat by chance - finds them in bed. Stunned, he accidentally falls over a railing to his death. A devastated Stephen clutches him while Anna silently leaves.

Stephens affair is exposed and becomes a media frenzy, with reporters outside his house. An anguished Ingrid questions whether he had ever loved her and tells him she wishes they had never met. "Everyone only has one person in life," she says. "Mine was Martyn and yours was Anna." Stephen resigns his government position, just as he was due to join the cabinet, and parliamentary seat. Meeting Annas mother, he discovers Anna is staying with her, but he and Anna are silent in their last meeting. Stephen, leaving his wife and daughter, retires to a rented room in a southern European town. In narration, he reveals Anna has a child with Peter and stares at a photo on his wall that Martyn gave him of himself with Anna and Martyn, blown up to life size.


2. Reception

Damage holds a rating of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.86/10.

Box office

The film was released on Christmas Day, 1992, and grossed $101.707 in four theatres in the opening weekend. It went on to gross $7.532.911 in the USA.


3. Awards and nominations

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music Score - Zbigniew Preisner
  • Nomination: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Miranda Richardson
  • Nomination: Cesar Award for Best Actress - Juliette Binoche
  • Nomination: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Miranda Richardson
  • BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Miranda Richardson