'Scenes of a Sexual Nature': not a disclaimer but a joy
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The British have done it again - successfully shown how talent, ensemble attitude, prudent production values, and esprit de corps can result in a first class thoughtful comedy of life. A first outing for writer Aschlin Ditta and director Ed Blum, this entertaining, intelligent and beautifully wrought film is a veritable showcase of some of Britain's finest actors.
The concept is a simple one: one sunny afternoon on Hampstead Heath overlooking London the camera moves among seven couples acting out the sexual overtones of relationships. No, there is no graphic action here: it is absolutely unnecessary, so candid and intelligent is the script. The couples we meet are 1) Eileen Atkins and Benjamin Whitrow, two alone, aging characters whose proclivity for weekly visits to the same bench result in a courtship dance of sorts; 2) Andrew Lincoln and Holly Aird discussing their rather dry state of marriage as Andrew's eyes understandably caress the beautiful Eglantine Rembauville-Nicolle reading Camus nearby, causing a crack in the couple's marriage; 3) Sophie Okenedo distraught at a breakup is consoled then seduced by flippant Tom Hardy; 4) Adrian Lester and Catherine Tate are in the final paper stages of divorce, trying to overcome their feelings for their frolicking little daughter; 5) Ewan McGregor and Douglas Hodge are a gay couple contemplating adoption despite McGregor's character's wandering eye; 6) Hugh Bonneville and Catherine Tate banter the fragility of a first date over lunch and wine and distrust; and Polly Walker 'sells' her time and attentions to willing buyer Mark Strong.
The phrase on the cover of the very well made DVD states it well: 'Sex and love. Some seek it, some need it, some spurn it and some pay for it, but we're all involved in it'. In addition to the pleasure of watching these superb actors ply their trade in these small vignettes the cinematography, editing, and musical score underline the spontaneous feeling of Ditta and Blum's concept. It is a pure joy to watch - even the informative dialog in the added features that accompany this delightful DVD. Grady Harp, January 08
Sex and Love, Love and Sex
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Scenes of a Sexual Nature"
Sex and Love, Love and Sex
Some seek sex and love while others need it. Some avoid it while others pay for it. It is, nevertheless, an integral part of our lives. Seven couples are investigated in this film as "Scenes of a Sexual Nature" looks at the way we live. It's a simple plot--people who have fallen in love, are in love, or need to be in love happen to all be on Hampstead Heath one afternoon.
"Scenes of a Sexual Nature" is touching, funny and entertaining. It is also intelligent and subtle with wonderful acting and excellent cinematography. Not a lot happens in the film and therefore the pace is slow but not tedious. It examines the different kids of relationships with a sense of tenderness, wit and intelligence. What is most interesting is the way it looks at the small things in relationships and it is these that give meaning. Relationships may succeed or fail because of the small things. Big issues can be worked at, while the small things either or accepted or fester.
The film is beautifully made and it is original, simple and easy to view. I found it to be thought provoking as it sums up the desires, hatreds, beliefs and knowledge of many of us. It is an endearing film because of its simplicity and makes us really believe that we are part of the lives of the people on the screen, if only for a short time. It is about people and this is what it concentrates on. The movie is like a book of short stories and as we can flesh out characters in them, so can we in the film.
There are many actors in the film but the star is Hampstead Heath. It is a series of snapshots of London all taken at the heath, a place known for sexual adventure. For the gay population, the gay couple speaks a great deal of the issues of the day and does not hold back. As they talk about their life together, we get a look at the idea of what monogamy is to them and the issue of adoption is also raised. What happens between the two men reinforces the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous if the opportunity presents itself.
Even if the reinforcement of this stereotype is abhorrent to many of us, this is a film that should be seen.
Seven short stories against a beautiful backdrop...
Diane Moore | 12/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"On a lovely day in Hampstead Heath, seven couples explore their relationships, find love, break up, and come to a crossroads. Most of the seven stories are not intertwined, except for a few parting glances here or there, and one man who is desperately looking to couple up with a woman for the day.
The good: I loved the story between Pete and Sara, who I thought were a lovely as husband and wife, and then realized that they were there to share the joint custody of their child, each clutching their divorce papers in hand. It appears that they still love each other, but something is not...right.
I also enjoyed the scenes between Brian and Billy (played by Ewan McGregor) a couple who are grappling with the decision to adopt a child, when Billy is having a hard time growing up.
Ludo and Esther also gave good performances. If I hadn't read the blurb on the back of the DVD cover, I would have thought that this duo had been together for years and very happy, but this one had a little shock and surprise at the end.
The bad: Eddie and Iris's story had captured me at first. Two old friends meeting 40-50 years later, on the same bench they frequented when they were 17, as they were once in love. Something lost me in the middle when it could have been very romantic.
Molly and Jamie were featured in the first story, a happily married unit, whose relaxing day is ruined when Jamie spends a little too much time staring a French girl, whose underwear is showing. He then makes up this convoluted story about how he once read the same book she's reading and tells his wife what it's about, etc. She then sees through the falsehood, then goes to the French girl to catch her husband in a lie. I guess it could have been a good story, but something felt a little too contrived about it.
The story with Julia and Gerry starts out well as a couple on a clumsy and awkward blind date. As they misunderstand each other less, and start to like each other more, one silly glance at someone else, sends the other into a flurry. It just didn't seem finished and it was a little too abrupt.
The strange: Anna and Noel meet after she's had a fight with her boyfriend, and they break up. What occurs then is a back and forth conversation about what is going to happen next. One of them seems crazy, and the other desperate.
As in many movies or books that have several different stories with many characters, you can't always expect to connect with all of them. Unfortunately, the number that I connected with was smaller than those that I did. This would be a good film to watch if you do not need a lot of action, but want to be reminded of the interconnectedness of people, and view all of their idiosyncracies. Also, you can never go wrong with London."