"Mysterious Sex Fables"
What You Need To Know:
Each of the stories touches on themes of love and sex, though in highly unconventional, sometimes unrecognizable ways. Antonioni makes his story so oblique and challenging that no one probably can understand it, which is part of the problem with EROS. The stories try so hard to be experimental that they neglect good storytelling, so the audience is left with very little of anything but minor weirdness and provocation. With too much female nudity and strange sexual situations, EROS is unfit for audiences.
(HH, L, SSS, NNN, A, D, M) Strong humanist worldview in which all action and thought is firmly grounded in the earthly realm; five obscenities and one profanity; no violence; very strong sexual elements include fornication implied several times or shown off-screen, foreplay depicted, woman touches man as she taunts him, man overhears couple having sex, and it is inferred that one woman is a prostitute; full frontal nudity in naturalistic setting, plus upper female nudity in sexual context, and upper male nudity; alcohol; smoking; and, woman takes advantage of employee, and implied prostitution.
EROS is comprised of three short films by renowned international directors, the American being Steven Soderbergh of TRAFFIC, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, and THE LIMEY. Each of their stories touches on themes of love and sex, though in highly unconventional, sometimes unrecognizable ways.
First is “The Hand” by Korean filmmaker Kar Wai Wong, a story about a demanding woman and a tailor who is bewitched by her. His craft becomes a metaphor for the unhealthy devotion that he feels for the client, who he eventually learns is a prostitute. Even as she is wasting away with disease, he sits by her bedside and pays her living expenses. “The Hand” is difficult to follow because little details are given about the characters or even about what’s occurring – the audience receives only little glimpses into the action, making for a slow-moving experience.
“Equilibrium,” Soderbergh’s contribution, is clearly the most nuanced and lively of the three parts. Starring Robert Downey, Jr. as a patient of the therapist played by Alan Arkin, the segment has red herrings, shadowy lighting and multiple interpretations like a dream would have. Downey is troubled by a recurring dream, but while he tells about it, Arkin is extremely distracted by something out the window. The segment ends with an interesting twist that resembles something in Soderbergh’s experimental FULL FRONTAL.
Finally is Michelangelo Antonioni’s contribution, “The Dangerous Thread of Things.” Antonioni seems to want to make his art so oblique and challenging that no one can understand it. What happens is this: A bickering couple leaves their stately home in Tuscany and drives around the country. Soon, the man comes across a stranger in the woods and has a dalliance with her. Then, that woman dances on the beach. Later, the woman from the beginning of the movie dances on the beach. Amazingly, I have left out very little. Readers may infer gratuitous nudity during most of these scenes.
Because the parts that make up EROS offer so little in the way of conventional narrative, it is somewhat difficult to follow the characters’ actions or to recognize a “worldview.” Most viewers would agree that the characters are following the path that makes them immediately happy.
EROS, then, was a fine idea but a failed experiment. Similar to the function of a short story anthology, to get several filmmakers’ takes on a single topic could expose audiences to new kinds of storytelling and new thoughts. Regrettably, Wong and Antonioni are content to bask in minor weirdness and provocation instead of telling significant stories, which negates the point of an experimental anthology like EROS.
With too much female nudity and strange sexual situations, EROS is unfit for audiences.