Released in early 2005, 9 Songs is a mildly controversial British film which was notable because it was one of the few mainstream (i.e. not pr0n) films to be released in cinemas which contained actual, non-simulated sex. It was not, however, the first non-pornographic release to contain this; 2001's Intimacy and the French shock-fest Baise Moi both contained explicit sexual content (the latter of which was really rather violent in nature at times) but 9 Songs took it to a whole new level.
The film has but two characters; well, two characters who have any lines, that is. These are Matt, an English bloke whose job is apparently something to do with glaciology, and Lisa, an American exchange student. They meet at a concert at the Brixton Academy by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and engage in gratuitous sex. This is then followed by shots of Antarctica, and then it's repeated another eight times, but with a different indie rock band and slightly different sex. And the same icy wastes of Antarctica from a different angle.
Oh, occasionally they do a line of cocaine before and/or after shagging each other's brains out, but the cycle of indie rock/shagging/Antarctica is pretty much the entirety of the film's 72-minute running time.
The reason the film was so controversial was the fact that it was all actual penetrative intercourse, and said penetrative intercourse first appeared a mere 39 seconds into the film. Certain more, well, prudish, commentators heartily disapproved of the film for these reasons, and they may, in a way, have a point; I, for one, couldn't discern any reason why simulated sex wouldn't have done other than to add a light veneer of authenticity to the whole proceedings. A more cynical part of me, however, believes that the only reason for it was to try and sell it through causing a storm in a teacup. Though to be honest, the sex was worlds away from the writhing-mass-of-pasty-limbs sex of today's industrially produced porno, even if during one assignation Lisa did utter the words "Fuck me harder." Make of that what you will. Also, the "foot-wanking in the bath" scene did cause me to raise an inquisitive eyebrow. But on the other hand, the sex in 9 Songs was also far removed from the typical romantic comedy-type soft-focus jobby, with its swelling music and billowing curtains and things. It was filmed very much neutrally; no background music and no strange lighting effects.
But then again, although I wouldn't say it was pornographic in nature, the film seemed to revolve almost entirely around sex. I have to be frank here; I found it, well, rather dull. I suppose it was trying to say something about relationships in the mid 2000s, and how they revolve around being sexual in nature rather than with any firm commitment, and there were a few clumsy metaphors about how they were like camping out in Antarctica ("Claustrophobia and agoraphobia all at once. Like being in bed with someone."), but that's pretty much it really. When the ending titles started to flash up on my laptop and the DVD was spat out its drive, I half expected to see tumbleweed wafting across my keyboard. So I logged onto IMDB and found that it had a 5.0/10 rating, which, if you ask me, is pretty fair and equitable, all things considered. It wasn't a turkey, but it wasn't particularly good either. It was just a vaguely art-house affair which was aimed squarely at the same sort of people as the protagonists. It also made the mistake of relying on the fact that it had real sex in it far too heavily, to the expense of any plot or characterisation except what we could glean from their pillow talk. Pity, really; with less shagging and better dialogue it could have been rather interesting.