Curiosity got the better of me and I went to see Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend. I wasn’t going to: I didn’t read the book and I knew this was going to be a film largely appealing to the masses and thus not really packing the punch I’m after in my cinema experience. Not surprisingly, box office ratings fell 73% on the weekend: although the film is watchable, it is mostly a drawn-out affair, with a tiresome script, a narrative that isn’t plausible, and average acting (although the actors didn’t do a bad job considering what they had to work with). But mostly, it is the sex scenes that didn’t live up to the hype. The film is supposed to be a look into bondage and discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM), but it depicts mild bondage scenes only and skims over what entail being a “submissive” or a “dominant.” Christian Grey proclaiming, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up” on why he wants to belt a naked Anastasia Steele does not suffice as good character development. Frankly, if I was a BDSM, I would be offended.
Although not everyone shares my views on this film’s eroticism (a woman was arrested in Mexico for masturbating during a screening), I would recommend that rather than blowing your hard-earned cash on a cinema ticket, you get cozy at home and watch one of the below films that not only have steamy sex scenes but also interesting characters and realistic story lines.
It is this 2002 cult classic that first brought BDSM into the mainstream—and did a much better job than Fifty Shades, wowing critics and audiences alike and winning the Special Jury Prize at Sundance that year. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a woman with a history of severe emotional problems. After her release from a mental institution, she is hired as a secretary by, coincidentally, Mr. E. Edward Grey (James Spader), and soon begins a sadomasochistic relationship with him. Besides exploring the ins and outs of BDSM with dark humor and eccentric characters, it also sheds light on how people often pushed to the edges of society view love and relationships.
Last Tango in Paris
The original ‘sexy’ movie by the master himself, Bernardo Bertolucci, this film was dismissed as ‘soft porn’ by some critics when it was released in the early 1970s. Although there is plenty of sex between a young woman and a weathered Marlon Brando, the scenes are not purely for sex-for-the-sake-of-sex purposes. It is ultimately an investigation into what happens when anonymous sex turns into love—and rumored to be inspired by Bertolucci’s own fantasies.
Another one by Bertolucci, this 2006 film launched the careers of pouty Michael Pitt and green-eyed Eva Green. Erotic and sensual, it follows the lives of three youths during the May 1968 student riots in Paris. Pitt plays an American exchange student who enters in a sexual relationship with twins Théo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Green). Lots of nudity in bathtubs and a poetic script contributes to a subtle film about intimacy, jealousy, and, ultimately, incest.
Lars Von Trier’s four-hour exploration of a nymphomaniac is as shocking as it’s educational. And any kind of sexual fantasy or act, including BDSM, is given a hard (no pun intended) look-in.
Y Tu Mamá Tambien
Long before he took us to space, Alfonso Cuarón made this indie classic that features one of the steamiest threesome to ever grace the silver screen. Two teenage boys (played by Mexican heartthrobs Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) go on a road trip with a sultry older woman and both engage in a sexual relationship with her. The film culminates in the aforementioned threesome, which ultimately drives the two best friends apart, giving us a raw film about what happens when sex and friendship mixes.
Last on my list is a film with some of the most explicit sex scenes of any mainstream film I have ever seen. But again, it doesn’t show sex for the sake of sex—the film uses it to paint a complex picture of modern-day relationships. The story follows a group of seven people, including a dominatrix, a sex therapist that can’t climax, and a gay couple who want to introduce a third sexual partner, as they attend a wild party in New York. Watch it and be relieved that you’re not the only one with weird sexual tastes.