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:: 9 Songs

Director Michael Winterbottom puts sex on the big screen and a song accompanies each graphic sex scene from bands like The Dandy Warhols and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It’s hard to feel tuned into the concert footage vs sex footage. The provocative film had been rated R until the censors revised it to MA.

However, there is more to 9 Songs than just the thought of it being a porn film. The explicit scenes sit with the emotional truths contained in the film. A short passionate relationship between Matt (Kieran O’Brien) and Lisa (Margot Stilley) is considered in the same light as the intensity and emotion of a great rock concert.

Winterbottom creates a certain indelible portrait of two young people getting to know each other. Lisa is an American girl in London and rock concerts are her love, as well as having sex under fluorescent lighting. The spectacles are spread out as the relationship unfolds. There are a series of sexual acts where, unlike other similar contemporary cinema films of recent years, the sex takes up most of the screen time. Perhaps it doesn’t titillate as much because there is too much to drown the tingle.

Lisa’s pleasure is conveyed through the memories of Matt and it’s shown dancing for her man or throwing back her head in ecstasy. Her wild child qualities eventually lead to a heightening of the girl-to-woman impression. It could be seen as stereotypical where Matt sits back from his new job in Antarctica and relives his liaison with Lisa.

The curious mix of explicit sex and live concert footage makes sense in this context and there is an overall thought of how our memories can’t let go of the past, however wonderful or painful.

One thing to say is the magnificent photography that captures the sex scenes in dark, natural light. The music features with each sexual act and contains some of the finest of the recent music sounds: Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, and Super Furry Animals, as well as the acts mentioned earlier.

Getting down and dirty over nine songs indicates that while the passionate couple bare a lot of skin, they fail to get below it. The film may be too uncomfortable, even for Winterbottom fans that know his proven talent. He pushes the envelope perhaps to the detriment of what he really wants to deliver.