What is 'Sexy'?

by Kathleen Dooley

There are few adjectives as difficult to define as this one. Now used to describe everything from cars to stationary, it seems to have something to do with a level of excitement or attractiveness which a thing or person emits. A TV commercial for some sort of self help product in Oz recently asked me, Are you sex confident? I'm not really sure what that means but all I can say is that it's definitely a subjective experience. One girl's Brad Pitt is another's Patrick Stewart. I certainly didn't think Sexy Beast was particularly sexy, but someone must have.
kath 1For me personally it's a mix of attractiveness and mystery, where something greater overtakes notions of the essential and the other. Sexy Films? I would keep this concept separate from that of sex films, as some of the most memorable film moments that come to mind are those that avoided physical contact all together. In terms of French films I m thinking of Daniel Auteuil throwing knifes at an excited Vanessa Paradis in La Fille sur le Pont. Sure, the woman is playing the passive role once again, but it s certainly more interesting than the scene involving her character Adele shagging a random in a phone box earlier in the film.

Similarly the electricity is flying when hardened criminal Paul (Vincent Cassel) catches an accidental glimpse down the shirt of his deaf boss Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) in Sur mes Lévres. Tension builds to a climax as we wait to see the outcome of these two opposites who are thrown together, each learning something new from the other.

kath3As a straight woman, I must say that it s not just about heterosexual romances either. There is something absolutely compelling about the journey of the dying gay protagonist Romain, in Francois Ozon s Le temps qui reste. Having left behind his sexy grandmother (Jeanne Moreau) with the promise that they will both find death soon, Romain goes forth into a threesome, doing his bit to help impregnate a sterile young couple. Maybe it s his distance from the other characters or his closeness to dying that makes this as memorable as it is.

So thumbs down to gratuitous nudity, sexual violence and soft porn. Bring on the meeting of minds and bodies by way of compelling narratives and characters. Others many disagree but that s my 2 cents worth.

Kath Dooley is an award winning Australian filmmaker who has created a range of shorts, music videos and educational works. Also currently undertaking a Postgraduate degree, her Masters thesis examines idea of identity and desire in the work of contemporary French directors.
Blog is also available to read on www.sexyfilmfestparis.com
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