i normally tend to stay away from romance movies, but at the same time i cannot resist a good controversy, i looked into some reviews and the people talking about the film said you must seek it out, it must be seen, so i tracked down a cinema that was showing it, watched it and WOW.
frankly I have never seen anything quite like it. i understand that the main topic of discussion is the sex scenes but we'll get to them in a bit, but first a few things that I think need talking about first.
this movies appears to have an agenda to create absolute realism, and in my opinion, it achieves that agenda with a highly unusual level of discipline, the directing, writing and acting combined created an atmosphere that stopped it from feeling like a movie, it very quickly feels like you are watching real people, the dialogue, facial expressions and even the eye movements make the characters feel 100% authentic, everything they do and say is absolutely how i think people would behave in the situations they get into. they don't feel like actors reciting lines, they feel like you are standing there with them, listening in on their conversations.
from what i remember, apart from the very end and over the credits, there is no music, there is music playing on radios and over speakers etc but apart from that there isn't much of a soundtrack, this assists the feeling that you are actually there to a point where it's almost breath taking. the camera work is fascinating, during scenes where they're just talking, the way it moves and cuts away is almost impossible for me to describe, it has a uniqueness to it that cannot be summed up with words. This was the fastest three hours i have ever sat through, i did not think this movie was too long at all, if they cut any scene from it it would be ruined, the pacing really gives Schindler's list, a prime example of expert pacing, a run for it's money.
there is an argument scene towards the end, and after 2 1/2 hours of build up, a series of slightly unsettling scenes and an entrance from almost nowhere, this argument left me shaking, it was so well acted, so realistic and so superbly filmed, i have felt disturbed and anxious non stop ever since. the realism is so well executed, it actually got me to care for this relationship, this fictional relationship in a romance movie that is nothing like your typical sappy, emotionally forced rubbish from Hollywood, and i deeply cared about it, me? the guy who laughed at Hostel?
now for what you've all been waiting for, the sex scenes
they were kind of like the action scenes, they may seem mindless at first but you wouldn't dare cut them out. they're explicit, yet not pornographic, graphic but also necessary. i feel if these scenes were any different the sense of realism every other scene created would have been severely jeopardised. yes they are long and yes the camera absolutely refuses to shy away from anything but at the same time, the directing and acting succeeded in making them extremely realistic, emotional and well crafted, and since we have already established that realism was the main agenda, it's safe to assume that if they follow realism, they did a good job. it did not look like i was watching two actresses pretending to do it for money, it legitimately felt like i was watching two people actually having sex, when a director can take fake sex and make it feel more real than the real sex in movies like 9 songs, something has surely gone right somewhere.
i know people have said that's not how lesbians have sex but let's at least appreciate this as an attempt, they at least tried to get it as realistic as they could even if it isn't how it's done in reality, they at least tried. people complained that the sex scenes are too long, but, they really aren't that much longer than most of the other non sex scenes so having them any shorter would feel like a copout, if every scene was long, they shouldn't make the sex scene shorter simply because it's a sex scene. these scenes also did a good job at generating emotion too, to me they didn't feel like sex scenes, they felt like love scenes, the explicitness will almost certainly get to some but i think the whole point of the graphic detail is to keep you glued to the screen, it stops it from getting boring by use of a combination of positive shock value and powerful emotion. some of the things these girls get up to had me shocked and fascinated at the same time, how on earth does a director tell actors to do that without being awkward I asked myself.
the sex is there as a side effect of there being a realistic relationship, the relationship was graphic, so was the sex. it doesn't feel like it wants to offend, just create a unique atmosphere rarely seen in love stories these days, the fact that it's lesbians is incidental and in no way exploitive. it's not pornography because porn is fake, this felt real. if you like romance movies, long movies, french movies, art house movies or are just curious about a few highly talked about sex scenes, you should search it out and give it a go.
I loved this movie for what it did to me, it took me to a place that few movies have done and the effects of that journey are still being felt today, it felt more than real, it was raw, beautiful, fearless and completely Oscar worthy, and i don't mean that lightly.
that being said don't let your parents see it whatever you do.
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