Seven couples take a day at the park. This film visits these couples and listens in on their hopes, dreams and insecurities.
On the surface, Scenes of a Sexual Nature is a film about nothing. It is a character ensemble piece that just drifts from couple to couple and eavesdrops on their conversations as they reveal their hopes, fears, dreams and neuroses. But on closer reflection, what director Ed Blum and writer Aschlin Ditta were able to construct was a montage of various forms of love and how they affect the people inflicted with this strange desire.
When we start the film, we meet a couple who are laying on a blanket, enjoying the sun in the London park, Hampstead Heath. The two are carrying on a conversation and it appears they have been married for awhile and staleness has set in. When the wife catches her husband staring at the knickers of a young French girl, she proceeds to embarrass him before walking off, demanding that he follow. We follow that scene to a park bench, atop a hill overlooking the entire park and the city in the distance. An older woman sits on the bench and stares at the scene. It is melancholic until interrupted when an older man comes and sits next to her. The two share quips until it is realized they met years before on this same park bench.
The scenes involving the older couple, as they speak of past loves, are strung throughout the movie, as an interlude between each of the other stories we view. Another story involves a gay couple weighing the choice to adopt a child while showcasing one of the partner’s unfaithful ways. Another involves a recently divorced couple remembering why they loved each other once-upon-a-time. Yet another involves a mentally unbalanced girl being hit on by a young, naïve chap. There is another story involving a blind date and another that is the rendezvous between two apparent lovers.
Each of these stories signifies a different stage of love. The staleness of a loveless marriage, the unrequited love of an older couple, the uncertainty of a first date, the unfaithfulness of a loving couple, the friendship of one-time lovers, the clumsiness of the single and lonely, the passion of young love. The movie is about nothing but also everything. It is about love and the confusion that love brings to a psyche.
In a movie set up in this fashion, it is required that the actors are up-to-par and in Scenes of a Sexual Nature, that is never a problem. The older couple that bookends the entire movie are portrayed by Benjamin Whitrow and Eileen Atkins and they are spectacular in their roles. These two actors are the best the producers could have dreamed of and back a solid cast that brought this movie to a level that the writer and director could only have dreamed.
The first man cast for the film was Hugh Bonneville and following him, many other top actors would follow, including Ewan McGregor, creating one of the best ensemble casts of any movie in recent memory. Many of these names may not be familiar to some people, but actors such as Adrian Lester, Tom Hardy and Douglas Hodge all turned in inspiring performances in the movie. Amazingly enough, Ed Blum was lucky enough to shoot a beautifully sunny movie in London. How he got so many great sunny shots in the country of rain intrigues me.
I was never sure what to expect when I put a movie called Scenes of a Sexual Nature into the player, but what I witnessed was a great independent film that showcases some great actors and introduced me to a young director with a great eye. It may not be up to the level of scripts by Woody Allen, but I am interested in seeing where this young writer/director team goes from here.
The video is 16:0 Anamorphic Full Frame 1.78:1. The audio is presented in 5.1 English Dolby Digital Surround.
If We Build it They Will Come is a making of documentary that talks to all the participants and is a really nice little feature looking at the casting and shooting of the movie. It is a very educational piece that talks about how the production team refused to give up all earnings to a distribution company, who would just fix the books to never show an earning and keep all the money away from the investors. Instead, they distributed the movie themselves and made all their money back. Once they broke even, they distributed the rest of the profits to the cast and crew. It is a true success story for independent filmmakers everywhere. There is also a good commentary track with the writer and director.