Movies are made for a variety of reasons. Usually, it’s to entertain and inform. However, in the process of accomplishing these goals it’s often necessary to commit scenes to film that depict pure evil, extreme awkwardness, or sometimes maybe even stage something that exorcises a filmmaker’s demons. And yes, these sordid dealings often involve sex. It’s subject matter that’s often not talked about by the Hollywood ilk. Sure, there are plenty of films that deal with the topic, and scores of celebrated love scenes, but when it comes to the darker side of sex in cinema, few folks have very much to say. That’s why, in the interest of illuminating the tremendous value and impact that these choices can have on a film’s narrative, here’s a sampling of some of the seedier moments in film. Regardless of how one feels about the material, there’s no denying that these scenes and/or movies are quite powerful.
Irreversible (2002): Truly a brutal and violent, but thoughtful film, it centers on the rape of Monica Bellucci in a dark alley. While the initial shock of this scene may seem exploitative at first, it definitely is not, and it’s doubtful that the film would work on the level that it does without it.
Deliverance (1972): Yes, the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene. The classic terrorfest of four men’s struggle for survival during a canoe trip is punctuated by an uncomfortable assault on Ned Beatty from a backwoods bad guy. Make no mistake that everyone, including the audience, is well aware of the gravity of the situation after this scene.
Basic Instinct (1992): Perhaps one of the most emphatic opening scenes ever produced, the film starts out with a woman who may or may not be Sharon Stone getting intimate with a fellow, only for him to soon meet his untimely end. The scene’s impact immediately sets a tense tone that lasts throughout the suspenseful tale.
The Brown Bunny (2003): Many may struggle to get through Vincent Gallo’s self-indulgent story about a lonely motorcyclist. However, it’s impossible to escape the punch of the extremely explicit scene Gallo shares with Chloe Sevigny to end the film. The controversial act was seemingly glossed over at the time of the film’s release, but regardless, Sevigny’s choice can only be described as daring. There’s no question that she’s definitely a method actress.
Descent (2007): Rosario Dawson is the victim of a date rape and exacts violent revenge on Chad Faust with the harrowing aid of Marcus Patrick in this stark film she co-produced. While the scene may initially seem excessive, it serves to paint a vivid portrayal of just how dark and painful the world of abuse victims can get.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982): The rather clumsy and unromantic scene between Jennifer Jason Leigh and Robert Romanus deftly illustrates the awkwardness of youth. Sure, the movie is a comedy (and a real good one), but the tryst and its repercussions only serve to add to the trials of the American teenager, which is what screenwriter Cameron Crowe was trying to make known.
Bully (2001): Speaking of troubled youth, it perhaps has never been more grimly portrayed than in the handful of moments Rachel Miner, Bijou Phillips, Nick Stahl, and the late Brad Renfro share in a car. The fact that this horrid and sad tale about a crew of stupid and disaffected teens that kills one of their own is based on true events is even more frightening.
The Accused (1988): Jodie Foster’s heartbreaking performance of a rape victim denied justice deservedly won her an Oscar. Only real actors and filmmakers could make the scene in the bar work correctly, and they pull it off on an incredible level. After viewing it, no one will ever be able to comfortably view a pinball machine in the same way again.
Storytelling (2002): It’s real quick, but the night Selma Blair has with her literary professor Robert Wisdom is intense to state the very least. Race relations have perhaps never been explored in such a way. It’s doubtful that anyone can make an audience cringe like writer/director Todd Solondz can.
I Spit On Your Grave (1978): Arguably the sleaziest movie ever made, the production is certainly exploitative, but regardless, no one can argue the fact that they don’t make them like this anymore. The film is quite bold in its choices concerning a woman (Camille Keaton) who’s victimized throughout most of the release’s running time and then turns the tables on her attackers. For all its grindhouse shock value, the film is effective, and it has merit in that it certainly has a rightful and important place in film history. It also encourages everyone to respect the ladies, and that’s never a bad thing.