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For some married couples, sex is an obsession that overwhelms their belief in strict monogamy. The ability to act out their sexual fantasies is more important than upholding any convention of love or marriage. Sex with Strangers paints an authentically intimate portrait of three such couples, from the euphoria of fantasies fulfilled to the desperation of splintering relationships, showing how their lives are profoundly affected by the lifestyle they lead. James and Theresa, a couple in their thirties, use their motor home as a pleasure palace travelling from club to club seducing couples wherever they go. Calvin and Sarah are thinking about getting married when they meet Julie, who doesn't swing, and isn't bisexual - until she falls for Calvin. Psychodrama almost displaces sex for Shannon and Gerard, who are passionate about swinging, even as they question whether the lifestyle is really for them. With unprecedented access to their lives, Sex with Strangers explores the reality of ... Written by
Cheap titillation pretending to be a documentary but it is disturbingly grim, staged (if not faked) and follows a group of people who are selfish and rather unpleasant and not the type of people I'd like to
A HBO documentary film that examines the lives, motivations and feelings of several American couples who 'swing' and have sex with other individuals and couples. The film follows several couples including a man who is having group sex with his girlfriend while he continues to be married behind her back; a couple who make it their goal to have as many sexual partners as possible in one night as well as organising a small orgy with three other people; and finally a man who has a swinging partner as well as a 'real' girlfriend who feels pressured to be involved in the swinging but unsure how she feels about it.
I wasn't going to watch this film because I know that HBO has a reputation for making sexual documentaries that really only try to be whacking material but The Times stressed how unerotic that it was and I assumed that it must be more serious than I assumed but I was wrong. The film was rather grim and unerotic but it is not for lack of trying, and this failure doesn't make it more interesting or reflective, it just makes it have even less value than it did. First of all let me just say that, although I don't think this was all faked, it is undeniable that much of it (including the sex) is staged or recreated for the camera. It is slightly arousing because, lets be honest, the idea of group sex with several women will be appealing to many men, and the soft-core footage of sex will probably satisfy teenagers who are unable to get their hands on hardcore stuff. But to be honest none of these people are great looking and the ability to get lost in this supposed 'fantasy' in significantly reduced by the fact that we sort of know these rather unpleasant people.
The film has no real insight and, to be honest, to real aspirations to really take a critical look at this lifestyle. The focus seems to be on how much fun it all is and just providing titillating talk and several soft-core scenes. I was horrified to see that those who appeared to be emotionally suffering due to their swinging were mostly presented as 'wrong' and were not allowed to really have much screen time (although we had many sex scenes). The people in this movie are not evil or cruel but they are simply driven by only one thing their own sexual desire. Where their desire is like their partners then that is fine but the two couples who have a half that are reluctant simply bully their spouses or just ignore their feelings but the film sides with the partner that favours sex over their partner's emotions. I felt almost ill when one guy asked his girlfriend to be a witness at his wedding where he would marry his swinging partner (but still live with his girlfriend), and he doesn't see anything wrong with it!
Overall this is a shameless piece of titillating tat dressed up as a serious documentary. The people are not even examined never mind judged and we don't really learn anything about swinging other than it is seemingly full of selfish, self-centered people who put their own sexual gratification above all else. The sex scenes are made less sexy by this at least with porn it doesn't matter whether or not you like the people but that is not the case here: they may provide some material for teenagers to get off to but most right minded people will find it rather grim and more sobering than arousing.
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