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Scenes of a Sexual Nature (DVD Review)

16 Dec, 2007 By: Laura Tiffany

Prebook 12/20/07; Street 1/15/08
$27.98 DVD
Rated ‘R' for language and sexual content.
Stars Ewan McGregor, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hardy, Andrew Lincoln, Sophie Okonedo, Mark Strong, Polly Walker, Catherine Tate.

Scenes of a Sexual Nature sounds naughtier than it really is. This collection of short tales of couples wiling away a Wednesday in London's Hampstead Heath park plays like Love Actually.

A gay couple discusses adopting children. A husband and wife exchange divorce papers. Two people meet for an awkward blind date. A man befriends a woman, and they discover they were sweethearts 50 years ago. A wife catches her husband checking out a beautiful young woman.

The strengths of Scenes of a Sexual Nature are the small surprises set up throughout the film that knock your expectations askew. No dramatic twists — just reminders that one can't judge a relationship by its cover.

Playboy Billy (Ewan McGregor) is in a 15-year relationship with steadfast Brian (Douglas Hodge), but he's the one who wants to settle down with children — even promising to stop his casual-sex cheating. The jealousy displayed by the blind-date man (Hugh Bonneville) is far more ridiculous than the humorous reaction of the wife whose hubby stares at another woman's panties.

As with any series of vignettes, a few fall flat. In one, the lovely Sophie Okonedo plays a woman who just dumped her boyfriend for being uninteresting. The persistent though dumb young man who decides she's an easy target for his pick-up artistry suffers the same fate. Unfortunately, the whole sketch suffers that fate, too.

But on the whole, director-producer Ed Blum does a bang-up job of balancing the scenes. Rather than having each play out in whole, he intersperses two or three at a time.

Some of the characters naturally fade away — after all, you've got to leave the park sometime — while others weave in and out naturally among the other park guests.

The pacing is perfect, as is the ensemble cast playing out these slice-of-life glimpses. This isn't a film just for fans of British romantic comedies; it's for any moviegoer seeking an intelligent, fun traipse through relationships, sex and love.

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