Movies try to capture sex onscreen, but it ain't easy. We usually get five, maybe 10, minutes of lovin', and mostly from male directors who bring their men-centric vision of the act into the picture. That said, here are four films that get it right.
PERSONA (Ingmar Bergman, 1965). In on the action: Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann.
Andersson's gregarious nurse tells Ullmann's silent patient about a summer sex encounter that turned into a beach orgy. It's all talk but very hot, largely because of the contrast between Andersson's wistful memory of the event and the avidity with which Ullmann's character, an actor, consumes the details for later use.
DON'T LOOK NOW (Nicolas Roeg, 1972). In on the action: Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
Roeg's adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's thriller about two parents who've lost a child contains a bedroom scene that, in Roeg's splintered-mirror, cubist cutting style, evokes both sex and post-coital depression, simply by scrambling the time scheme. Simultaneously hot and sad.
LOULOU (Maurice Pialat, 1980). In on the action: Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu.
Huppert's bourgeois wife takes up with Depardieu's working-class layabout in a film that is a series of sex scenes in empty apartments -- Last Tango without the midlife crisis. Huppert's character is someone who knows what she's risking but doesn't care. It's an early draft of her great performance almost two decades later in School Of The Flesh.
BOUND (Andy and Larry Wachowski, 1996). In on the action: Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon.
Not the later bedroom scene, but the initial living-room seduction, which teeters on a razor's edge without toppling into lesbian camp. Tilly's breathy performance as Violet, mistress to the Mob, is astonishing, and the cinematography shows a great appreciation for the contrast between skin tones and black lingerie. And as Susie Bright notes on the commentary track, this is the first fisting scene in a mainstream film.