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  Scenes of a Sexual Nature Park Life
Year: 2006
Director: Ed Blum
Stars: Holly Aird, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hardy, Douglas Hodge, Adrian Lester, Andrew Lincoln, Ewan McGregor, Gina McKee, Sophie Okonedo, Eglantine Rembauville, Stephen Samson, Mark Strong, Catherine Tate, Polly Walker, Benjamin Whitrow
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is a pleasant summer's day on Hampstead Heath and Jamie (Andrew Lincoln) is lying on the grass having a conversation with his wife about how much footballers get paid; he thinks it's too much to receive thousands of pounds a day considering they only play one match a week. His wife, Molly (Holly Aird), is more interested in discussing what she has just been reading about in her magazine, which is multiple orgasms of the kind she has never experienced. The talk peters out, and Jamie finds himself gazing at a young Frenchwoman, Sophie (Eglantine Rembauville), whose dress has ridden up while she lies on her back and reads. Unfortunately for him, Molly notices what he's looking at and puts him in a very difficult position, and across the heath people are putting themselves into awkward situations - all because of love...

When you think of ensemble dramas, or even ensemble comedy-dramas as Scenes of a Sexual Nature is, the big name in the field is Robert Altman, and while this film doesn't reach the heights of his most distinguished works in the form, it certainly attempts to hit the character based thorns of this genre. What should be pointed out is that despite that title the scenes depicted aren't likely to arouse anyone, mainly it's all talk that you're subjected to here, sometimes about sex, sometimes about the rocky path to happiness (or otherwise) through relationships. The filmmakers assembled an impressive group of British actors to tell their tale, all working for minimum acting wage to help the obviously low budget production along, although frequently writer Aschlin Ditta's sequences come across as activity tests for an acting class.

It's also not especially funny, although it gets around this by presenting itself as not supposed to be for the greater part of the running time, but bits like Sophie Okonedo's just-dumped girlfriend role are very odd; I know she's supposed to be upset, but would she really behave that way with Tom Hardy's inept opportunist? Luckily, it's rare for the cast to hit a wrong note, with, for example, Ewan McGregor's half of a gay couple wanting children and Adrian Lester's amicably divorcing dad acquitting themselves admirably. However, the storyline that presumably was supposed to be the most affecting, the elderly couple (Eileen Atkins and Benjamin Whitrow) meeting for the first time in decades, quite by chance, is too contrived and leaves the film weakened. Scenes of a Sexual Nature has an agreeably relaxed atmosphere in its favour, but overall it's a minor effort that doesn't really go anywhere significant. Music by Dominik Scherrer.

[Sony's Region 2 DVD has a making of featurette, audio commentary with the writer and director, a BAFTA documentary and a trailer as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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