Scenes of a Sexual Nature
|Scenes of a Sexual Nature|
|Directed by||Ed Blum|
|Produced by||Ed Blum
|Written by||Aschlin Ditta|
|Music by||Dominik Scherrer|
|Edited by||Joe McNally|
|Distributed by||Miracle Communication|
|3 November 2006|
Scenes of a Sexual Nature is a 2006 British comedy-drama film directed by Ed Blum and starring Ewan McGregor. The film is mostly based on a series of seven loosely related stories of couples on Hampstead Heath in north London, featuring an ensemble cast. The scenes appear out of sequence and jump back and forth between one story and another.
Husband, Jamie (Andrew Lincoln) and wife, Molly (Holly Aird) are lying on the grass, discussing footballers and multiple orgasms. Molly notices Jamie staring at a pretty girl nearby, Sophie (Eglantine Rembauville). When he is challenged about it, he pretends he was looking at the book the girl was reading, L'Etranger by Albert Camus. Immediately seeing through his lies, Molly questions Jamie about the book; Jamie claims it is a western about a man who eventually becomes sheriff. To embarrass Jamie and expose him as a liar, she then approaches Sophie to question her about the book as well.
Iris (Eileen Atkins) and Eddie (Benjamin Whitrow), an older couple, meet on a park bench, and start talking about London's skyline and wondering about the couple to whom the bench is dedicated. They discover that they both come to the same bench on different days of the week. They are both widowed. In talking about their past, they also discover that, nearly fifty years before, they had met romantically at that spot and that is why they both kept coming back. They walk off to climb to higher ground, bemoaning the difficulty with climbing hills as they get older. They are bemused by the irony of meeting again, and have mixed feelings as they no longer represent an idealised partner in each other's minds. They talk about seeing each other again, but Iris also decides to visit her former husband's grave, now appreciating more their time together.
Anna (Sophie Okonedo), a disturbed young woman with extreme mood swings, is crying and arguing with her boyfriend Ludo (Nick Sidi), who eventually walks off. She is then approached by a young man, Noel (Tom Hardy) who, in a confused way, asks after her welfare and tries to make her laugh. She asks to be left alone, but he sits next to her and appears to meditate. His weird behaviour interests her and they strike up a conversation, but she becomes annoyed with him. She suddenly orders him to have sex with her right away but subsequently leaves him with his pants around his knees. Noel re-appears in the film several times as he chances upon other characters.
Gay life-partners Billy (Ewan McGregor) and Brian (Douglas Hodge) are also lying on the grass, discussing other gay men and The Good Life. Billy has trouble giving up casual sex with other men, while Brian wants him to be faithful to him. They later talk about adopting children, which Billy wants but Brian doesn't. Billy promises to give up casual sex when the two adopt children, which convinces Brian to think about it. However, seconds later Billy runs off in pursuit of an attractive man who passed them.
Peter Brian Maxwell (Adrian Lester) and Sara Louise Williams (Catherine Tate) meet on a different bench. It transpires that they are married and have a seven-year-old daughter, Eve (Elle Mckenzie), but are getting divorced from each other. However, they have mixed feelings about this because they still care for each other.
Louis (Mark Strong) meets Esther (Polly Walker) and discusses Louis' father's funeral. Louis presents Esther with tickets for a holiday in Barbados. They discuss a variety of issues like a traditional couple, but in the end it transpires that Esther is an escort and is paid for her time with Louis.
Gerry (Hugh Bonneville) and Julia (Gina McKee) sit on a rug enjoying some red wine and cheese. They stumble over modern terminology for ethnic minorities and not being, or appearing to be, racist. They talk about former relationships and children and, as they are both in their early forties, Julia worries that she will no longer be able. The two are on a blind date together – Julia's first. They seem to be getting along well until Julia's attention is briefly drawn towards Louis, who passes them. Insulted by this, Gerry decides to leave abruptly.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature was filmed on a minimal budget (estimated at £260,000), and the actors were offered Equity minimum and a percentage of future profits as their salary. The filmmakers presented the project to investors a mere two weeks before shooting began, at which point the actors had already signed on. In fact, to increase the budget, Ed Blum, the director, re-mortgaged his flat.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature received mixed reviews from the critics, with a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The BBC gave it 3 stars out of 5, saying it had a "beautiful backdrop and pleasant nuances," whereas Empire magazine gave it 2 stars, saying it was "good in patches but insubstantial, the only discernible moral is that Hampstead Heath is a nice place to be on a sunny day."
It opened in niche cinemas, earning about US$100,000 in its first weekend.