Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brown Bunny (2004) UR and The Door in the Floor (2004) R

Depression & Sex- two reviews. William Styron, author of "Sophie's Choice" died recently after a lifelong struggle with depression. In an interview with Terry Gross he could not take his own life because he could not write the perfect suicide note. This is a painful statement from an artist about depression.

I was depressed about a year ago. We sold our house of 10 years and moved to an apartment. Our daughter was also struggling with a major illness (but has since recovered). The feelings from these events caught me by surprise. I had no appetite for my favorite foods and could not get an erection. Depression and sex do not mix. When depressed, the last thing in the world we want is sex and yet we sometimes seek sex to again feel alive.

Vincent Gallo's film The Brown Bunny provides a stark, graphic film about depression and sex. We follow Bud Clay on a cross-country journey as he tries to get the death of his girlfriend out of his mind. It doesn't work. He is haunted by her death. Her ghost visits Bud and among other things performs oral sex. The scene is graphic. We see everything. She looks up after performing fellatio and asks why things had to turn out the way they did. It is all-imaginary, so in fact Bud has no answer for her question. Vincent Gallo directs this film and also plays Bud Clay. However, it gets even weirder. Chloe Sevigny plays Bud's girlfriend, who in real life is his ex-girl friend. So art reflects reality and then reflects art, or something like that.

Jeff Bridges and Kim Bassinger (from 9 1/2 Weeks fame) star in the film, The Door in the Floor. The film is by Tod Williams and adapted from John Irving novel, "A Widow For A Year". The movie is dark, but totally honest of how a dysfunctional family copes with the death of two sons. A couple living off Cape Cod takes in a summer live-in student as a means to replace the loss of their sons. The father encourages the boy to have sex with his wife. The wife teachers the student how to make love, yet we all understand she is really loving her dead son. The couple reveals vulnerabilities and real human complexity in both subtle and dramatic ways as they use sex with a young stranger to replace the loss of their sons.

These two films are actually very good but you need to be prepared to see depression. Both films capture the moods and surrealism of sadness. Depression in these films is not the usual sad scenes we see in movies that make us cry and then somehow we feel better. Depression here is the absence of feeling. It's being numb. These are not the films to watch if you're anticipating an erotic turn-on. Nonetheless, the films have very explicit and realistic sex scenes that are more sad than erotic. They capture the real pain of the loss of a lover and family member. They also captures how in the middle of feeling such loss a person may think that they will never love again.