Centuries ago, the Polish philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer asked rhetorically, “Is there the possibility of a true and definitive satisfaction of sexual desire?” Sexuality is very interesting and it’s part of what we are as individual and collective beings. Nowadays, due to psychological research advances, we know that our sexualities are a reflection of our emotions and psyche: you cannot divide the person from their sexual preferences.
Becoming obsessed with sex is very easy and it could be dangerous, too. We can’t escape from our sexuality because we can’t escape from ourselves. Cinema, as a mirror of life, shows these topics, turning into art something that is rejected in our society and destroying taboos. Let’s dive into amazing films about sexual obsession.
10. The Phantom
“The Phantom” is a Portuguese film directed by João Pedro Rodrigues.
It follows the story of Sergio, a young man who works as a garbage collector in Lisbon. In his nocturnal outings during work, the boy has sporadic sexual relations with men, although all of them are sexual objects for him. In the film, we can see that he has a taste for adrenaline and danger since he has sex mostly in public places, like his workplace’s bathroom or even the middle of the street.
One day, he meets a boy and Sergio is amazed by this boy’s motorcycle and also by the character of its owner, an attractive young man. Sergio becomes obsessed with this man and chases him everywhere; he even gets into his apartment and fantasizes about dominating him.
His sexual desire and impulses lead him to a dangerous and addictive situation in which he will not know how to escape.
“Shame” is the tale of a man named Brandon Sullivan, an Irish-American New York executive and long-term bachelor. He is a sex and pornography addict. Brandon leads a bourgeois and monotonous life, filling his emotional and existential emptiness with sex.
His obsession with sex is not only because he enjoys it, but because he uses it as an escape from reality. He actually feels guilt about his condition. Brandon’s expressions and body language show how scared he is of being discovered, because he is ashamed of his sexuality.
In the film an event occurs that interrupts the main character’s life: the arrival of his sister, who is very emotionally dependent on him. Sissy appears for Brandon as a mirror in which he reflects his own vulnerability, his own repressed sadness and melancholy that he hides with an empty and structured life.
8. Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom
“Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” is a metaphor for fascism and abuse of power, but it can also be interpreted as a film about sexual obsession. It focuses on four wealthy, corrupt Italian libertines, during the time of the fascist Republic of Salò. They kidnap 18 teenagers and subject them to four months of extreme violence, sadism, and sexual and mental torture. These wealthy men are clearly obsessed with sex and have really twisted sexualities: their biggest pleasure and entertainment is raping and torturing children, using the power of corruption.
This movie is an excellent example of how domination works: how the oppressor maintains its position and how the oppressed is subordinated to obey. It shows how power and sex interconnect, generating fear and dominating others to indulge the sickest and most grotesque fetishes that a human can have.
7. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
“The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” is a very interesting film and it’s one of my all-time favorite movies.
It focuses on the behavior, psyche and emotions of Petra, a prominent fashion designer. The film is restricted to her room, which has very peculiar decorations. There are mannequins everywhere and sophisticated paintings of naked men.
She works all day at home and has an assistant (a designer as well) whom she treats as a slave. Her assistant, Marlene, has also traits of masochism. She does what her boss says and tolerates all of her abuses because she loves her, or maybe because she has nobody else to rely on. This relationship reveals Petra’s sadistic, codependent tendencies.
One day, her cousin introduces her to a friend, Karin. Petra, immediately attracted to Karin at this first meeting, suggests to Karin that she become a model. Karin agrees to return the following day. Petra quickly falls madly in love with her, but Karin doesn’t love her back. This creates a lot of frustration in Petra. Her loneliness unleashes a sexual obsession and emotional dependence on Karin.
This movie shows how BDSM, toxic relationships and sexual obsession works, linking these topics with emotional issues.
6. Belle de Jour
“Belle de Jour” is a French film directed by the amazing Luis Buñuel. The film is about a housewife named Séverine Serizy. She is unable to share physical intimacy with her husband, and her sexual life is restricted to elaborate fantasies involving domination, sadomasochism, and bondage.
Haunted by childhood memories, including one involving a man who appears to touch her inappropriately, Séverine goes to a high-class brothel that she heard of when she talking with a friend. She starts working at the brothel as a prostitute and after having her first client, she starts to fantasize about having sex with strangers in front of her husband.
Creating a great storytelling with the mixture of daydreams and reality, this Buñuel’s film reflects several interesting themes like female sexuality, BDSM, the connection between fantasies and reality, and sexual repression.
In this story, we can see how sexual repression due to social, moral and ethical norms combined with traumatic experiences can trigger an obsession with sexuality.