5. The Brown Bunny (2003)
So much has already been said about The Brown Bunny, and it’s obvious why this film was chosen. If you’ve never seen Vincent Gallo’s film about a man in search of the love of his life, chances are you are well aware The Brown Bunny features an infamous real oral sex scene.
Like In the Realm of the Senses, it is another film that includes sex not for the sake of “having a sex scene,” but because the film demands it. As Ebert remarked in his second review of the film, “Yes, it is explicit, and no, it is not gratuitous.”
4. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Alfonso Cuarón’s critically acclaimed 2001 masterpiece is being included on this list because it’s a perfect example of how to make a film that is heavy on sexuality and not be obnoxious about it. The key reason it works is because it’s a film about growing up, and sexuality is only a small part of what that idea entails.
Sex in this film can be described as a way of learning about who you are as a person. “Growing up” in cinema thematically is difficult to pull off properly, but Cuarón has made a brilliant template of how to do it in this movie.
3. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Last Tango in Paris is basically about two people engaging in casual, anonymous sex. That may sound boring by today’s standards, but it’s still a powerful film for a couple of reasons. The most obvious: the story itself is bold (especially for a film made so long ago). But in recent history, what the film has made headlines for is the contentious issue of its lead actress Maria Schneider’s treatment during the production of the film.
Schneider has commented, “I felt a little raped, both by Marlon [Brando] and by [director Bernardo] Bertolucci.” Like Blue is the Warmest Color’s controversy, it’s tough to reconcile the fact that Last Tango in Paris is a great film with Schneider’s treatment. When we watch the film now, it’s worth knowing that Schneider’s performance onscreen may not have been complete acting. It’s a tragic, sad instance in film history: Last Tango in Paris is bold for both good and awful reasons.
2. In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
This film can essentially be described as being about two people in the middle of a crazy love affair. But what it is notoriously known for is its explicit portrayal of real sex. In the Realm of the Senses is so graphic it has endured a controversial reputation decades after its release.
One of the reasons why the film is so bold is because you cannot write it off as being merely a pornographic or soft-core pornographic film. Nagisa Oshima’s work never feels like just another excuse to include shocking scenes for the sake of making a grotesque film. The movie’s main characters are genuinely crazy in love, and their sex lives are appropriately wild.
1. Nymphomaniac (2013)
If you’ve read this far you may have noticed that 2013 was apparently a big year for films covering sexuality boldly. Nymphomaniac may have arguably been the boldest, with Lars Von Trier making the decision to release the film in two parts. If we consider the uncut version with both parts to be one film, it has a running time of over 5 hours.
Trier’s film is a long, perhaps unprecedented exploration of a woman’s sexual history. Aside from the two parter aspect, the film is also Tarantino-like in the sense that it is told in chapters. Each chapter is dedicated to a significant moment in the protagonist’s life. Nymphomaniac is a journey of a film, but it’s unforgettable.
Author Bio: Dilair Singh is a film lover from Toronto. He particularly enjoys screenwriting, and hopes to sell a screenplay someday. You can find him on Twitter: @dilairsingh.