Kinky sex can be funny, disturbing or loving
Movies that explore the world of alternative sexuality often tell deeper tales of human connection
While negatively reviewing Ken Russell’s wildly kinky 1984 thriller Crimes of Passion, the late, great Roger Ebert said, “sex is an activity of great and serious importance to its participants but, as a spectator sport, it has a strange way of turning into comedy.”
Certainly, Russell, enfant terrible that he was, took great delight in orchestrating scenes of graphic, unnatural S&M sexuality in that bizarre film. But Crimes of Passion was not camp.
It was really just one of many controversial motion pictures that use extreme kink as a tool to tell deeper tales of extreme human connection.
With the release of Peter Strickland’s deeply kinky romance The Duke of Burgundy, opening soon across Canada, and the filmed adaptation of E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey opening on Valentine’s Day weekend, we take a look at some of the big screen’s most excessive forays into alternative carnal knowledge. The Night Porter (1974) Liliana Cavani’s dark, controversial sado-masochistic drama is as demented as they come, detailing an ongoing relationship between a concentration camp survivor played by Charlotte Rampling and her former Nazi captor. Love stories don’t get stranger than this. And yes, Ebert hated it. Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch’s masterpiece of small-town mystery and murder is, at its core, an S&M love triangle. But while Dennis Hopper’s wheezing villain Frank Booth treats Isabella Rossellini as an outlet for his violent insanity, her masochistic lovemaking with Kyle McLachlan is tender and affectionate. A work of great beauty — and perversity. Exit to Eden (1994) Sitcom king Gary Marshall takes Anne Rice’s moving and hyper-erotic sado-masochistic romance novel and, seemingly agreeing with Ebert’s sentiments, flips it into a sex-soaked slapstick comedy, inventing goofball roles for Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Akroyd as leather-clad cops snooping around an S&M resort, and decimating the dirty dignity of the book. Rice was none too pleased. Nymphomaniac (2014) Lars von Trier’s magnum pornographic opus is in essence an inspiring study in female empowerment, although one exploding with jaw-dropping sequences of mind-bending kinky sex and violence. Charlotte Gainsbourg delivers the performance of a lifetime, even when using her body as a receptacle for some of the most extreme debauchery ever seen on screen.
The Duke of Burgundy is a master- slave lesbian romance, and a must- see film, says critic Chris Alexander.