SIRENS is an Australian period-piece which introduces us to an intelligent, if prim, minister sent on a daunting mission: to convince a reprobate painter to withdraw a profane drawing from an international exhibition. Since this is basically a sex film rather than a serious drama, some initially provocative conversations about artistic freedom and responsibility soon give way to lots of nudity and some pretentious nonsense involving a "sexual awakening" (i.e., adultery) of the minister's wife.
SIRENS is an Australian period-piece which introduces us to an intelligent, if prim, minister sent on a daunting mission: to convince a reprobate painter to withdraw a profane drawing from an international exhibition. The Reverend Anthony Quinn, who smokes Turkish cigarettes and quotes James Joyce as fluently as he does St. Paul, has been sent to confront reprobate artist Norman Lindsay about his erotic painting of a woman nailed to a cross. Once at Lindsay’s, Quinn’s wife, a quiet, proper woman, is somehow enticed into drinking, fondling and having sex with a handyman. This episode is considered a “sexual awakening,” and made out to result in a “new,” more intellectually and sexually sharp Mrs. Campion. In the best traditions of world-class philosopher Hugh Hefner, SIRENS wants to inform us that immorality is liberating rather than hazardous, and, no doubt, the film will be a big hit on the Playboy channel, where it deserves to be confined.
All of this posturing nonsense once again conforms to the perfect track record of immaturity and philosophic stupidity displayed by films whose primary focus is sex. This is too bad, because, for a while, at least, SIRENS actually offers some interesting dialogue about the tension between artistic freedom and responsibility. Obviously, writer-director John Duigan doesn’t see much use for the latter.
(NA, L, NNN, SSS, Ab) Neo-pagan worldview; 4 obscenities, 2 profanities & blunt discussions of sex; extensive full female nudity, brief frontal male nudity & repeated views of "erotic" statues and artwork, including drawing of a nude woman being crucified; multiple scenes of fondling, including man with woman, women in a group & man by himself, strip-poker game, adultery ultimately condoned & implied to be a positive event in a marriage, & sexual immorality depicted & encouraged; intense verbal attacks on Christianity of one character, though most of these adequately rebutted by other characters; and, alcohol use throughout.