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A young reverend and his wife are on the way from England to Australia to minister to their flock. The bishop asks him to visit an eccentric artist prone to sexual depictions and requests that he voluntarily withdraw a controversial work call "Crucified Venus" from his show. The minister, who considers himself a progressive, is shocked at the amoral atmosphere surrounding the painter, his wife, and the three models living at his estate. The minister's wife is troubled also, and has to deal with latent sexual urges while trying to remain loyal to her husband. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
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[reading from newspaper]
The repetitious excesses of Norman Lindsay have long been a source of consternation to clean-living citizens of this country. For many years he has painted men and women who seem to be slaves of cocaine or a similar drug which has reduced them to frenzied and shameless morbidity. Today, however, not content with scorning all standards of public decency, he has chosen to profane the most sacred image of the Christian church, the Crucifixion.
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I had never heard of this film before I saw it on television one night. Luckily I saw it in Australia and it wasn't edited for content. I found it refreshing and intelligent. Set in the 1920's, it's about a reverend and his wife who travel to the Outback of Australia to "tame down" an artist (played well by Sam Neil) who has been creating "lewd" paintings. In the end, the film successfully criticizes religion's hang ups about sex. The reverend, of course, plays the part of conservative who is against these paintings that he deems are pornographic. During the course of the film he has several opportunities to explain his objections. While the film ultimately suggests that he is wrong, it still allows us to understand the reverend's point-of-view and perhaps even sympathize with it. The most remarkable thing about this character was his "some things are best left untold" stance concerning his wife's misbehaviors. This was a brilliant unexpected twist for me. At no point in the movie is the reverend made out to be a villain. Rather, he is presented as an intelligent and forgiving man, who just happens to be conservative about sex. With that said, I do not believe criticizing religion's view of sex was the main purpose of this film. The true story -- related but not the same -- was about the reverend's wife finding her own repressed sexuality while also well-aware of her husband's views which she initially shared. She is the heroine of the film. She makes a journey, encounters inner conflict, and returns changed by her experiences for the better (or we are led to believe). Any review of Sirens would be incomplete if it failed to comment on the sex scenes. They are explicit but nothing to be alarmed about especially considering this film targets a purely adult audience. The sex scenes are tastefully done even if they are built on lust instead of love. If I may venture an opinion, I think most women will find this movie very erotic. Take for instance, the perpetually bare-chested muscular blind guy. This character fulfills no other purpose than to incarnate female sexual desires. Men however will not find this film very arousing. It explores the sexual desires of women not men. But there are plenty of beautiful naked women to kept them interested even if the story doesn't. But as a man, I enjoyed the movie too. (I can't even recall any film attempting to explore men's sexual desires artfully at this moment...) In summery, a very good film that is thought-provoking and well-done. 7/10
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