Compiling a list of beautiful erotic movies that everyone wholeheartedly agrees to is mission impossible, as one person’s erotic dream may be another’s nightmare. Like any other idea, the concept of eroticism will differ from person to person. Someone’s idea of erotic could be the actual physical act of lovemaking whereas another’s could be eroticism of the mind.
To some eroticism could mean nudity, to others, it could be just a look in a person’s eyes. Some movies could be noteworthy for their ambient erotic charge rather than a show of unabashed sex. But if we survey a sizeable population, we could come across some names that would be common to many.
And it is exactly those movies that we are going to try and take a brief look at in this list. Fortunately there are a myriad ways to define a movie’s sexiness as there are, uh, ways to have sex. This way or that, all of the movies in this compilation has the power to put us in the mood for love.
20. Room in Rome
This is a steamy Spanish drama where two women tourists spend a night together in Rome, sharing with each other their traumatic past. Directed by Julio Medem of Sex and Lucia fame, the film stars the dark and perky Spaniard Elena Anaya as Alba and the blond Russian Natasha Yarovenko as Natasha.
Set over the course of a single evening, the film is a sexual odyssey yet there is more to it than just sex – it is also a film about reflection and psychoanalysis. A painting by Leon Battista Alberti hung over the bed echoes the rich palettes and the visual mood of the film. Lensman Alex Catalan experiments with some daring camera angles exploring the room as the women indulge in their sexual sojourn.
The tango-based score is a sexy accompaniment to the ambience while a catchy folk tune is neatly incorporated as a signature song – all in all a beautiful erotic piece of work loosely based on “In Bed” by Matias Bize.
19. Secret Things
The film is an erotic thriller by writer and director Jean-Claude Brisseau. Thankfully, in contrast to the films of the world at large, French directors often discard the call of commerce to pursue eccentricities and personal obsessions – a quality inherently essential to create path-breaking art. Brisseau’s favourite subject has been sex, as understandably its hypnotic influence mesmerizes audiences.
Secret Things is a sizzling, hot dream about two twenty year olds from Paris – the exotic dancer Natalie (Coralie Revel) and the reserved small town girl Sandrine (Sabrina Seyvecou). Their task: to conquer a demon’s empire with sex. As the film progresses, alliances and loyalties shift and things get more dangerous with an inventive plot that weaves an intricate web of blackmail, intrigue, sabotage, with sex being the key element in exercising control.
18. The Sessions
The writer-director of the movie Ben Lewin tells the story simply, with no stylization which proves to be just right for the requirements of the plot. Mark, a paralyzed man post a polio bout, has been living on an iron lung that controls his breathing.
Though, in spite of his severe disability, he is a successful writer. Mark writes with a pencil in his mouth, a strenuous and time-taking effort by any measure. A time comes when he too feels the magnetic allure of the flesh and wants to experience what all of humanity desires – sex.
The search for a solution ensues, and finally, we come across Helen Hunt, who plays Cherl Cohen Greene, a licensed sex surrogate whose sessions with Mark will lead from body awareness techniques to – intercourse. The Session plays with pathos but on the whole sticks to its honest and simple storytelling.
17. Sleeping Beauty
Bearing not even a surface resemblance to the fairy tale from which it borrows its name, Sleeping Beauty is the debut film of Australian novelist Julia Leigh. The film stars Emily Browning as Lucy, a bored and broke Australian University student who responds to a newspaper ad and lands a job as a sex worker, albeit with a twist.
The job: she would have to take a drug and go to bed naked, and after she goes into a stupor, an old and wealthy man with a shrivelled body and a flaccid penis would come and get into bed with her.
The idea of respectable and wealthy gentlemen paying to disport with her dormant body may seem a little farfetched for many. The question: are these old men trying to distract themselves from their impending death through these weird escapades? Definitely, a point to ponder upon.
16. Henry and June
Henry and June is a visually lush film about literature’s two leading sensualists – Henry Miller and Anais Nin during the early 30’s. The script by Philip Kaufman and his wife Rose Kaufman is adapted from the 1986 posthumous publication of Nin’s diaries where she reveals her secret and passionate love affair with Henry Miller. While Fred Ward as Miller is a lively creation, Maria de Medeiros as the insatiable Nin and the voluptuous Uma Thurman as Miller’s wife June too succeed in doing full justice to the director’s vision.
The film, a three-way romance, is actually a misnomer – it being an account of Miller and Nin while June plays a marginal role. The twist in the tale is awakening of Nin’s desire for Miller’s wife June. The film’s sex scenes are delicately photographed by Philippe Rousselo. What this film does best is evoke a bohemian milieu in which literature and sex is closely interlinked.
15. Sex and Lucia
As the title suggests, the film contains two stories, one about Lucia, a completely headstrong modern woman, and the other about sex, and there are huge dollops of it – sometimes tender and at times, overtly raw. Julio Medem, the director, does not delve into the psychological crevices of the characters mind, as a result of which he stays on the surface of most things.
The film begins in the middle and uses flashbacks to go back and forth to narrate how Lucia, played by the fiery Paz Vega, flees home when she comes to know that her boyfriend Lorenzo, played by Tristan Ulloa, has been run over and killed.
Utterly devastated, Lucia takes off for an island in the Mediterranean where Lorenzo used to intermittently visit to write his books. Then on, mystification and narrative tricks pile up with the plot becoming increasingly puzzling as the film progresses.
Argentine director Gaspar Noe has quite a reputation when it comes to films that are viscerally provocative. Though his fourth film does not venture into extremes of stylistic bling, yet Noe aided by DP Benoit Debie does create frames that have a dreamy eroticism and a hazy, lyrical beauty. This least unsettling of all his films tries to narrate the story of a romance entirely through beautifully framed scenes of naked bodies intertwined in aesthetic ecstasy.
Noe doesn’t waste time and kick-starts the film with an interlude of mutual masturbation between Murphy, an American film student in Paris played by Karl Glusman and his lover Electra, played by Aomi Muyock. The story then progresses by moving back and forth in time, as the lovers bond and copulate with an assortment of partners. In short, Noe attempts to capture the bliss and the emotional crisis of Love in its entirety, by intermingling sentiments with sexuality.
Fresh out from a mental asylum, a young woman is hired as a secretary to an aggressive lawyer. A hard-drinking father and an over-protective mother add to her chagrin, and soon the demons that had sent her to the asylum start reasserting themselves. The woman starts inflicting pain upon herself in various ways and not before long, the employer-employee relationship turns into a sadomasochistic one.
Directed by Steven Stainberg, Secretary stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway and James Spader as the eccentric employer Edward Hardy. Soon his quirks manifest themselves and he starts slapping Lee on the ass, who, funny as she is, enjoys this abysmally abnormal act.
The film Secretary says less about the power struggle between the employer and employee and a lot more about S&M as a therapy. It won’t be surprising that Secretary may have frayed a few feminist sentiments by portraying a grim scenario where women find salvation in the arms of sadistic men.
Atom Egoyan’s Exotica is not erotic in the conventional sense. The film raises moral questions and tackles post modern thoughts regarding perception. The Canadian writer and director prove once again that he is a true original who makes films that are both dramatic and cerebral.
The story is about a mysterious connection between Francis, played by Mr. Greenwood, and Christina played by Ms. Kirshner. The film’s themes intersect imaginatively in the creation of exotica – be it the experiences at the club or the hyacinth macaw eggs that Thomas smuggles – implying a world where characters purchase out-of-this-world experiences in order to feel alive.
11. The Lover
The Lover is a beautifully shot lyrical film about romance between a beautiful French teenager (Jane March) and a Chinese playboy (Tony Leung). Directed by Jean Jacques Annaud, the film is set in the 1920’s Indochina.
A young girl meets a rich playboy while travelling to her boarding school in Saigon. The playboy offers her a ride in his car, post which they embark on an affair based purely on sexual gratification. They meet regularly in an anonymous room in a crowded market area where they indulge in the pleasures of the flesh.
After a few encounters, the man tells the girl that his family has fixed his marriage. He seems genuinely sad but does not have the wherewithal or the inclination to go against prevalent social norms, and more importantly, to oppose his father. Towards the end, the man seems to truly pine for the nymphet though nothing is revealed about the girl’s feelings. We only get to know how she is coping with the breakup once she is onboard a ship for France.