Mainstream art films with explicit sex scenes have been around for a while. Some classic examples include:
Romance (1999) directed by Catherine Breillat, which included an extremely romantic scene between stars Caroline Ducey and Rocco Siffredi.
Baise-moi (2000) directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi, sort of a No Wave Thelma and Louise with the violence, sex and existential despair all ramped way up.
The Brown Bunny (2003) directed by Vincent Gallo, which included a scene of Chloë Sevigny smoking crack (simulated) and then giving her director/costar a blow job (unsimulated).
9 Songs (2004) directed by Michael Winterbottom, which showed a cute couple in London alternately attending rock concerts and having sex.
The Wayward Cloud (2005) directed by Tsai Ming-liang, our choice for greatest hardcore musical of all time.
Shortbus (2006) directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who called it his attempt “to employ sex in new cinematic ways because it’s too interesting to leave to porn.”
There have been plenty of examples of this trend since then. In the last couple years we had Blue is the Warmest Color and Nymphomaniac. Both had their fans and detractors, but the freakout factor was mild compared to the reception greeting those art sex flicks from 10-15 years earlier.
Alas, it has gotten harder and harder to shock anyone. French director and persistent provocateur Gaspar Noé is giving it a try with his new movie Love, debuting soon at the Cannes Film Festival.
Noé’s two most recent films, Irréversible (2002) and Enter the Void (2009), both featured unsimulated sex and I-dare-you-to-keep-watching shock value. He’s not new to this game. Love hasn’t screened yet, but advance word calls it “the story of a love triangle between a boy and two girls in the style of a melodrama” and “maybe the most explicit movie the Cannes Film Festival has ever seen”.
The film’s marketers have tried to build some shocking buzz with a series of porno-tinged posters. One shows a three-way kiss with lots of tongue and drippy saliva.
Another poster presents a female crotch in rear-view close-up, barely covered by a flimsy bikini bottom.
So far I’m kinda turned on but far from shocked.
Then a couple days ago, they released this new poster.
OK, that’s pretty good. Even the most jaded libertine is bound to gasp a little at seeing that poster for the first time.
Is the film itself any good? We’ll see.