SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE

R, 91 m., 2006

Director: Ed Blum
Writer: Aschlin Ditta (written by)
Stars: Holly Aird, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville

Ed Blum’s Scenes of a Sexual Nature is an Altman-esque romantic comedy, the latest ensemble mosaic from London (following in the footsteps of Winterbottom’s Wonderland and Mike Leigh’s entire career).

This one is about a series of sexually-themed conversations in a famous London park on a bright, sunshiny day in which several couples and prospective couples chat and chat…and chat. Highlights of the cast include Ewan McGregor as an uncommitted half of a gay couple thinking about having kids. Then there’s an old couple (including Eileen Atkins) who seem to have fallen into a routine of running into one another and flirting, as if every time is the first time they met.

There’s also Adrian Lester (of Primary Colors) as a man who is in the middle of a divorce from the woman he loves; Oscar-nominee Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) as a strangely defensive girl who first antagonizes, then seduces a creepy loner, only to turn schizophrenic on him; and Gina McKee (of Wonderland and Notting Hill), that gorgeously melancholy English rose, as a middle-aged beauty on a blind date that goes from bad to worse.

Confession: I am drawn to what Alyssa Quart in Film Comment in 2005 termed “hyperlink cinema.” These are the kinds of films where the lives of several seemingly disparate characters weave and warp and occasionally intersect or collide somehow – occasionally with a grand statement to be made, sometimes simply in order to present the lives as realistically as possible. I don’t want to oversell this too much. The film is funny, sweet, and ultimately moving – as inconsequential and as lovely as a nice spring day in the park. 

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