Monday, 7 August 2017
I've Just Seen: In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida) (1976)
I am no prude when it comes to nudity and sex in films: one of my favourite films is a French adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, which has full frontal, equal opportunity nudity, and several long sex scenes. It also has a plot with character development in between the love scenes; something that cannot be said for Oshima's film. Oh, there is a story: a woman working as a maid in a hotel begins an intense affair with her boss Ishida. The woman, Sada Abe (is it a coincidence that her name implies sadism?) used to be a prostitute, and does resume her former trade, but just can't keep away from Ishida.
If you were to play a drinking game, imbibing each time the two have sex, you would be sloshed within the first 15 minutes. Really, very little happens onscreen other than the two having sex and/or talking. And it gets boring rather quickly. Even when those two aren't having sex together, when we see them they are usually having sex with someone else, sometimes encouraged to do so by the other. Some of the activities they engage in, while not as revolting as those seen in Salo, are still unpleasant: eggs being inserted into unorthodox places, forcing others to watch them, forcing others to sleep with them, and finally a member being cut off.
Of course, what makes this all the more confronting is that much of the sex is non-simulated (well, I can't speak for Eiko Matsuda ecstasy, which may be Sally Albright levels of acting). To be honest, I had forgotten this fact as I started watching, and even found myself naively wondering how they did certain things (answer: they just did them).
The plotline of the story appears to be "I love you, and that is why I have to kill you," as the film culminates with a rather violent act, one of the few unsimulated parts of the film. While I didn't care for what I was seeing on screen, it does have some top quality cinematography (something I also said about Salo), so it does have a veneer of sexiness; it just loses it very quickly through repetition.
I am glad I have ticked this off the list, and will hopefully never need watch it again. While sex scenes are fine in films, character development and a good story is what makes them interesting and even sexy. Not continuous money shots.