In the Realm of the Senses

Director: Nagisa Oshima
Year Released: 1976
Rating: 2.0

First off, if I ever hear the press or the film critics describe and actor/actress' performance as "brave" I most certainly hope they consider the performances by the two leads in the one and use them as benchmarks. Yes, that's right, the two leads - the core of this plot-less film - engage in oral sex, anal sex, erotic asphyxiation, dopey Freudian castration (which occurs after the male lead has sex with a woman he compares to "his mother"), food-related sexual games (the "Egg" scene is justifiably famous) and actual intercourse (there is penetration: you can see it). Honestly, it's the most shockingly sexual "mainstream" film by a well-known director I've ever sat through, and was alarmed to find out it wasn't given the triple-x rating. Yet, despite the sheer graphic detail of obsessive love, there is a gaping hole (pun intended) where the meaning and purpose should go - once you stop being shocked at what you're seeing, you realize there isn't much of a point to all the petting and sweating, that Oshima feels as if his hardcore imagery is enough to provide adequate meaning and relevance, and that his imagery carries with it the all-encompassing "truth" behind human sexuality and need. Is it a warning against exceeding limits on desire? Is it a cautionary tale? I have no idea, and was not compelled to care. David Cronenberg's Crash is in the same "realm" as this film, and, not surprisingly, its lack of a plot and adequate meaning left me feeling just as disinterested.