I felt mezzo-mezzo about Eric Rochand‘s Mobius, which played a few days ago at the Tribeca Film Festival as well as L.A.’s COLCOA fest. Set largely in gauche Monaco, it’s partly a financial espionage drama and partly…actually mostly a romantic relationship drama between Jean Dujardin and Cecile de France as a non-governmental Russian spook and a French-English financial trader. The two twains don’t really blend or cross-pollinate, but Mobius is not a boring or listless film — it’s reasonably engrossing.

The obvious template is Alfred Hitchcock‘s Notorious, but what happens between the lovers isn’t about “love” as much as intense chemistry and gratifying orgasms and comforting hugs.

I’ll give it this much — it ends with one of those nice hugs, and in a way that feels more or less satisfying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spy drama that lets the plot stuff go at the end and just zeroes in on the heart. So it’s different, at least.

But the first sex scene is very…odd. They go back to his hotel room and they do it gently and slowly — Rochand mainly stays on facial closeups although he offers a shot or two of De France’s lower anatomy — and she comes, twice. But I was in my seat going “what is this?…we’re just going to sit here and watch two attractive, well-lighted people fuck? I mean, I guess it’s okay but why?”

I was having this reaction because the movie just stops during this scene. It brings nothing significant to the table. And it’s not really necessary as the thing that really matters in Mobius, as noted, is the warm embrace of a man with strong arms. So watching Cecile de France quietly gasp and moan is kind of a “what?” moment.

Sex scenes were fairly common in the late ’60s and ’70s but those days are long gone. The ones that go one for more than 15 or 20 or 30 seconds (i.e., with the lovers in more or less the same location and sexual position) always stop things cold. You have to cut, cut, cut and make it all seem brief. You obviously have to imply more than show. You can do the steamy sweaty thing but you have to do it…I was going to say like Adrian Lyne but that’s an old reference. It’s nonetheless a good idea to always use all kinds of hot angles and humor and snazzy back-lighting and whatnot and get it over with sooner rather than later. You sure as hell don’t want to dwell on sex scenes, that’s for sure.