Has 2013 been a thin year for sex scenes? On recall, most of the sex scenes I thought I remembered did not actually exist, but were the products of my libidinous imagination and the abrupt and radical elliptical editing employed in many films. Though at times the sex scene that plays out in my mind is far more satisfying then the one on screen, sometimes I’d like to be offered the images directly on a steamy silver platter.
In general, a good sex scene should resonate with the audience leaving behind palpable imagery and an overwhelming continuum of affect. Whether the scene is sensitive, serious or satirical in nature, it should have a synecdochic relationship to the film as a whole.
With that being said these are the sex scenes of 2013 (described, not shown in images here) that left a variety of tastes and impressions in my mouth and mind.
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
A brief neon reprieve from the harsh sunlight, vibrating Skrillex dubstep and outlandish excess that abounds, the pool party threesome scene between Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Alien (James Franco) is quiet, tender and mesmerizing. Though we know this hyperreality exists only in our imaginations, we yearn to enter this space if only for a brief moment. But instead we are left with the tantalizing and haunting echo of Alien’s voiceover continuing into the night and into our memories ad infinitum, “Spring break….spring break forever.”
Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Looking past the the harsh wave of criticism and controversy, the lengthy ten minute sex scene is raw and unadulterated, capturing the awkward gestures, glances, touches, and imperfections of new sexual encounters and unrestrained desire. The film’s theme of insatiability resounds foremost throughout this scene, as the women cannot get enough of each other. The audience too is left with an unfulfilled palate and an enduringly ravenous appetite for more.
The Canyons (Paul Schrader)
A Los Angeles orgy in true form: under wild strobe lights with the raspy and hypnotic commands of Lindsay Lohan’s sultry voice acting as master of this steamy charade. Performing for the camera, Lohan breaks the fourth wall with a suggestive smile for a scintillating second. The beautiful creatures of this orgy wade in the allure of their self-referentiality and the illuminated reverie of the Hollywood façade.
Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) prove that you can have a rewarding sexual experience with your clothing intact. The buildup of the scene and the excitement of burgeoning romance between the characters are succulent but unidealized. Though this scene is sexual tension par excellence, it also feels like an encounter anyone could have (or has had): lodged up against the wall in the dingy apartment hallway.
I’m So Excited! (Pedro Almodóvar)
Replete with auteur Almodóvar’s baroque characters and carnivalesque setting, the scene features the least painful, most enjoyable, and outrageous loss of virginity, literally straddling the delicate line between comedy and controversy. Bruna (Lola Dueñas), a virgin in her late thirties, takes advantage of a young, handsome man within the tight confines of an airplane seat while he is passed out from a concoction of drugs served by the plane’s flamboyant flight attendants. This is edification on Almodóvar’s terms. Apart from feeling the cramped quarters of the plane’s seat, it is simultaneously uncomfortable to observe the eccentric range of Bruna’s gestures and facial expressions (not to mention her delirious orgasm). However, the vision of the sideshow is akin to the experience of seeing a flasher on the subway or a car wreck, you have to look.
For the complete list of year-end lists on Keyframe, go to The Year in Film: 2013.
For the complete index of the films on these lists, go to 2013 Year in Review: Indexed.