Strand Releasing has picked up U.S. distribution rights to Franco-Lebanese auteur Danielle Arbid’s “Simple Passion,” a Cannes 2020 title that played strong on the fall festival circuit.

Announced as part of the Cannes 2020 selection, the French-language film premiered in San Sebastian, and would go on to play Busan, Moscow and Zurich ahead of a planned release in France later this year.

Adapted from Annie Ernaux’s 1992 bestseller, the film tracks an emotionally-toxic but physically combustible relationship between a Parisian academic (Laetitia Dosch) and her mercurial – and married – Russian paramour (dancer Sergei Polunin). Their relationship begins to curdle when one party shows more than carnal interest in the other.

Reviewing the film out of San Sebastian, Variety critic Guy Lodge praised lead actress Laetitia Dosch’s star turn, calling her a “vital life source” and noting that she “holds nothing back physically, but it’s her face, constantly registering shifting internal tides of desire, disappointment and devastation, that holds us.”

Written and directed by Arbid, and produced by Les Films Pellas’ David Thion and Philippe Martin and Versus’ Jacques-Henri Bronckart, the Franco-Belgian production had previously sold throughout Scandinavia, Western Europe and East Asia. Pyramide International’s Agathe Mauruc brokered the sales.

“Danielle Arbid has beautifully crafted a frank, yet delicate portrayal of female desire and longing rarely seen on screen,” said Strand Releasing’s Jon Gerrans. “We’re anxiously looking forward to introducing the film to North American audiences in conjunction with our long-term partnership with Pyramide International.”

In recent years, Strand has picked up similarly risqué French titles like Christophe Honoré’s “On a Magical Night” and Camille Vidal-Naquet “Sauvage,” both of which launched out of Cannes.