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The most SENSUAL MOVIES of the XXI century

What makes a movie sensual? Not only tender kisses and naked bodies intertwined in a passionate embrace.

Maja Budka

10 July 2023

It’s the light that reflects off the smooth skin, the play of colors, timid close-ups, the way they move and the tension hovering over the characters. Although the image limits our perception of sensuality, some strongly and stubbornly affect our impressions. They transcend the sphere of perception and convey in an untouched form the passion and eroticism of the film that we feel through the skin. How do the directors of our century manage to achieve this? I distinguished five different techniques of capturing intimate passion in cinema.

Enter the Void (2009)

Enter the Void

A special attribute of Enter the void is hypnotizing the viewer, inducing him/her to indulge in film-drug experiences. Older than Love, Gaspar Noé’s film is not only a transcendental trance, Oscar’s posthumous spiritual journey. It is primarily a drive through the licentious and neon Tokyo, which is given to the viewers to see through the eyes of the protagonist. The director achieved a unique result thanks to colorful visual effects, fluorescent and erotic images that make the viewer’s senses buzz. During the final, more than ten-minute scene, Oscar drifts between the rooms of the Love Hotel, observing one after another perverse sexual acts. However, the bold sex scenes are shown in a seductive and intimate way. Noé presents an image of unbridled sexuality in narcotic, psychedelic poetics that test the viewer’s perception.

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue is the Warmest Color Léa Seydoux

Blue is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche is a French coming of age story, awarded with the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It follows the fate of Adele, who, on the verge of adulthood, meets an older Emma. With her, he discovers what passion is. The romance of both women focuses on Adele’s uncertainty, incomprehensible desire and fascination, and the first sensual love, which eventually turns into addiction. Lesbian erotic scenes, including the longest, seven-minute scene of sex, are shown in the film in an extremely intimate and delicate way. The camera remains in close contact with the characters’ bodies, thanks to which their experiences seem to penetrate the screen. From scenes of tender touch to a prosaic image of listening to the rhythm of flowing water. The film discreetly and meticulously captures the important details, thanks to which the viewer experiences the full-fledged sensual life of Adele. The elation of women extends to all human senses, which is subtly conveyed by Kechiche’s movie.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden

The film by the Korean director, Park Chan-wook, is a psychological erotic thriller set in the 1930s. Sook-hi’s heroine arrives at the estate of a rich collector of old books. Her task is to serve the heiress of a great estate and persuade her to marry Count Fujiwara. The plot becomes complicated when the servant girl falls in love with the heiress. Although Sook-hi initially plays the role of Lady Hideko’s tender and caring mother, their relationship slowly turns into a forbidden romance. Meek scenes of women playing, unbuttoning dresses, taking baths, rubbing a sharp tooth with Sook-hi’s finger. Over time, it turns into timid, passionate, but also dangerous images of erotic awakening, which are additionally visually refined. Thick mystery and intrigue, hidden desire are mixed with the subtlety and finesse of depicting the presented world. A cold play of colors, delicate light contrasts, long shots, details and intense music accompanying significant scenes. The most powerful thing here, however, is the secret.

The Dreamers (2003)

The Dreamers

The Dreamers is a drama by the Italian director, Bernardo Bertolucci, which tells the story of an American student, Matthew, who becomes friends with a Parisian duo, sister Isabelle and brother Theo. When the American discovers that the siblings share an almost incestuous relationship, he becomes embroiled in a peculiar love triangle. The film moves from a romantic description of sensitive moviegoers to a desire for self-discovery, sensual exploitation, loss of innocence, which is fueled by a mysterious erotic game. The film is a youthful sex appeal boom. With the right dose of artistic nostalgia, conversations about literature and politics, and sensual scenes full of nudity, the director creates a dream world for his romantics. The cramped apartment, in which friends are locked, shortens the distance between the characters and the viewer, allowing you to get involved in their intimate moments. It also enhances the sexual atmosphere of the film, as well as the undeniable attractiveness of the actors: Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer ben wishaw

Tom Tykwer has made a daring film about an all-consuming obsession. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an olfactory genius, embarks on an unstoppable quest for the perfect scent in the dirty and foul-smelling streets of 18th-century France that will eventually turn him into a murderer. An attempt to tell a story about diverse human senses is a huge challenge. In Perfume, lust and carnal love give way to stimulating scents, which are expressed visually – through images and colors. Brilliant Grenouille, offering the world a pure distillate of love, haunts their senses, stimulates their desires, which is reflected in the final scene of a passionate orgy.

Maja Budka

Maja Budka

I write about film and art with a cat on the keyboard. I like animation and films lined with gentle absurdity.

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