I’m a sap. Romantic movies make me melt into a puddle. Longing stares, a well-placed shoulder touch, a cry of agony at the thought of being separated though you have never so much as touched bare hands… all these things ruin me. I love love, and I love watching people fall for each other. If the actors are good enough, I won’t even care if the script is formulaic crap.
That being said, I don’t care about modern day romantic films. Everyone is too good at sex for me to find it interesting. Where is the fear of God? Where is the air of forbidden-ness? Where is the SHAME? This is not my sexual intercourse, no sir.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this: I love sex scenes in period pieces, if they happen at all. I love them if -and only if- they are awkward and uncomfortable yet still manage to be titillating. People in the olden days didn’t know what they were doing! I refuse to believe it. They were always dressed head to toe in frills and velvet and what have you.
But, best of all, they are brief.
There’s nothing I hate more than a sex scene that lasts over five minutes. That does nothing for me. Let me imagine the sex! Give me a shot of the door closing, a small gasp, or even a simple neck kiss! The gyration is so boring! Let’s just skip to the conversation afterwards, preferably with a cigarette!
I want to talk about a sex scene that restored my faith in the concept of sex as a whole. It is the sex scene from the new film Brooklyn , starring Saorise Ronan (a literal Irish faerie). The sex scene in Carol helped too, but that’s an entirely different article.
The film focuses on a 1950s Irish immigrant and her Italian boyfriend. They enjoy a chaste courtship of which we should all be jealous. They hardly ever kiss and it still set my heart ablaze. Tony is a charming man, and Eilis loves him. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, and Eilis must return to Ireland for a period of time. But before she leaves, she brings Tony to her room in the boarding house, where the sparks fly.
EVERYTHING about this scene is incredible: the awkward, silent kisses, the fact that they mostly keep their clothes on, Eilis’ blind attempts to unhook her garters, their shameful, shameful moans of pleasure, their closed eyes, his IMMEDIATE climax… my god. I could go on forever.
It just feels so authentic. These 1950s babies don’t have any idea what they’re doing. They’re fumbling at each other like teens at a boy/girl dance (of which there are several in this film). We’re watching them figure this out totally blind. And I loved it.
Sex isn’t sex to them, at least not the way we are usually exposed to it in film and television. Their sex, however awkward, however unknowingly dissatisfying, is perfect.
Fictional sex has gotten more realistic in recent years. The film Weekend is far more graphic than Brooklyn , but feels just as real and meaningful. “You’re The Worst” has a lot of sex, but the characters actually laugh and talk during, instead of the soundtrack doing all the work. But Brooklyn takes place during the 1950s, and the sex still rings true.
Maybe I’m just working past my personal hang-ups regarding physical intimacy. Maybe my secret desire is to write sappy romance novels. Who knows? I’m just glad I can channel my feelings through movies in a way that doesn’t make me feel totally empty inside. And I’ll definitely be watching Brooklyn again with a double bottle of red wine and some semi-expensive cheese.