Favorite films involving sexuality

I have a fondness for films that are able to explore sexuality in a interesting way. Now, i must emphasis when i say “explore sexuality” i don’t mean just having a bunch of sex scenes for no real reason. What i mean are good films that just happen to have sexuality as part of its subject matter,whether as the main theme or as part of a larger focus.

Eyes Wide Shut:I think everyone here knows of my love for this film. Its masterful look at hidden desires,and in particular how it melds that with thriller elements makes this one of, if not my favorite movie in general.

Mister FoeMister Foe:This is one of the stranger movies i’ve seen, in that it somehow manages to jump back and forth between twisted and heartfelt.It also has one of the more interesting takes on the whole lonely stalker archetype, in that the movie doesn’t try to make light or sweep that aspect of the character under the rug(Unlike say Edward in Twilight) but you still sort of root for him. That dynamic is also helped by Bells strong performance,who manages to bring to life both of those aspect. It also helps that when the female love interest finds out he stalked her, she actually calls him out on it,which leads to one of the few(if any) scenes where the male is nude but the female isn’t(from what i cna tell, usually its the reverse in movies).

Diary of a Nymphomaniac:I did a full length review a while back, but in brief if you can get past a unintentionally silly first act it becomes a far more interesting exploration of a woman too sexual by society standards. And to do that without the slut shaming that is applied to most female characters of that time is admirable

Shame:Unlike most films dealing with sexuality, this makes no attempt to be “erotic”. From the way the sex scenes are shot, it is obvious it is not supposed to be pleasant viewing, but instead supposed to make you feel pity for the main character. The last sex scene in the film on paper sounds like a fantasy come true for most guys, but with the way its filmed here just feels painful to watch. Not only one of the best films about sexuality, but addiction in general.

Basic Instinct:One of the classic erotic thrillers, this one crafts a fascinating tangled web of sexual intrigue. Layering twist upon twist, the question of who to trust becomes more and more complicated.

Secret thingsSecret things:This starts out as what looks like a run of the mill erotic thriller, but in the 2nd half it becomes something much more. Becomes a fascinating of class and power,with a sexual twist.

Mysterious Skin:I don’t want to say exactly how this relates to sexuality as i think that would be a spoiler(In the film you don’t find this out until the end), but suffice to say it is a nuanced and respectful take on a subject that could have easily ended up feeling exploitative.

Belle De Jour:While the story of a bored housewife is nothing new,the way its done here is fantastic. Its examination of fantasy’s and desires brings to mind Eyes Wide Shut,although this one is much more surreal. I have to admit it got a bit too surreal for my tastes at the end, but everything before was just so good i had to include it.

Piano TeacherThe Piano Teacher:I already mentioned this aspect of the film in my filmmaking inspirations, but what i love about this one is that no matter how explicit the movie gets, it manages to retain a repressed tone.

Black Swan:Here Aronofsky combines his usual interest in the obsessed with a element of sexual repression, to impressive results. While this may be one of his more pretty looking films(Especially when compared to his film the Wrestler) it still has a underlying darkness to it.

Notes on a ScandelNotes on a Scandel:A tale of people desperately trying to control others, this one manages to go beyond what could have been a simple premise and turns it into a complex tale of interesting,flawed characters.

Repulsion:I went back and forth on whether to include this, as the main character goes beyond repressed straight into frigid territory. But even with that, i think the absence of overt sexuality becomes a theme in this well crafted psychological thriller.

StokerStoker:I know this one is rather recent, but i have no doubt this one will stay in my memory for a while. A stylistic, yet creepy take take on the coming of age genre, this one features one of the more twisted sexual awakenings i’ve seen on film.

Honorable Mention

Kaboom:The fusion of conspiracy and sexual awakening doesn’t totally come together in this, but i still have a certain fondness for it.

P.S I’ve already told some people about this, but for those who don’t know recently my actress crush Deborah Ann Woll retweeted me on twitter :) Suffice to say that was pretty much the highlight of my day(Link to a screenshot for evidence)

For those interested in films of this genre/type, what do you think of this list?And if you have any suggestions not on this list i would love to hear it

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25 Responses to Favorite films involving sexuality

  1. bloodyrenn says:

    This is a great list with some obscure gems! Most of the films not mentioned here that I am familiar with are more straight exploitation movies which generally don’t deal with sexuality on any deep, analytical level. A number of David Lynch movies have pretty predominant, psychologically driven sexual themes (Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway) that wouldn’t be out of place on this list; Sex, Lies And Videotape also!

    • Thanks :) I tried to include a mix of well known along with some obscure choices, so im glad you appreciated it. And i forgot to include Blue Velvet and Sex,Lies and Videotape,but those are two very good choices. I wasn’t really a big fan of Eraserhead(too arty for me), and Mulholland Drive is a film i feel a need to revisit soon.

  2. Mr Rumsey says:

    Great list of films here! I keep meaning to see Belle De Jour – it’s queued up in my rental list and is just waiting for me to get around to it. Black Swan is a fantastic film and it’s nice to see films such as Notes on a Scandal being included.

    • Glad you like the list. And i when you do get around to seeing Belle De Jour i would love to read your thought on it. And Notes on a Scandal wasn’t going to be on the list originally, but its such a underrated film i felt like it deserved a shout out here.

  3. Is that JGL on Mysterious Skin? He looked so young!

    Nice list! I just saw Stoker too, and it definitely is different. When talking about sexuality in film, I’ve seen nothing as provocative as Last Tango in Paris. Also a tad violent there. Um perhaps The Graduate?

    • Mysterious Skin is one of JGL’s earlier flicks. Last Tango in Paris and the Graduate are 2 i forgot about(Although in the case of the former im not sure i would call it a favorite movie)

  4. ruth says:

    Well, as you know, I’m not exactly fond of this genre but I have seen a few of these. Interesting that you mention Stoker, it’s definitely pretty well-crafted but effective without showing too much.

  5. mettemk says:

    Very nice idea – I too love movies that center around sexuality. I mean, it’s one of the most interesting topics that exist, right?
    Many of these are favourite movies of mine, another important one I’d definitely include is The Dreamers.

    • Indeed, and glad to know you have favorites on this list ;)

      And im not sure i would cal the Dreamers a favorite of mine, but in the canon of sexually themed films i suppose it is notable

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  7. Tyler says:

    Excellent list. Nice to see Basic Instinct here, always thought that was kind of underrated.

  8. le0pard13 says:

    Quite a test, Julian. Good look at this.

  9. Nice list a few I have not seen yet and will have to check out. I think I would add Secretary and Last Tango in Paris to this list. “get the butter”

    • Secretary is another one i like but forgot to add in(Which just goes to show how many films dealing with this subject matter i watch). And yu just reminded me of that scene from last Tango…that one was brutal

  10. Mark says:

    Great list but I love the fact you got a retweet from Deborah Ann Woll. Just brilliant!!!

  11. Dan says:

    Eyes Wide Shut is fantastic. Its a glorious mind-bender in so many ways.

    9 Songs would be up there as one of the worst in my opinion. Winterbottom tried to do sexuality and only succeeded in making a rather downtrodden porno.

    • Indeed. And normally im not one for ultra mind-bendy movies, but somehow it didn’t end up being a problem for me in that one

      And i agree with you about 9 songs. In fact i would say it is a prime example of a film that mistakes having a bunch of sex scenes with exploring sexuality.

  12. Szever says:

    No Secretary? You should check that one out if you haven’t.

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