Well, this is a hard film to write about. It isn’t everyday that you watch a highly acclaimed film that features unsimulated sex in pretty much every fashion you can think of. Honestly, I think other than Dogtooth and 9 Songs this is the only cinematic film I’ve seen with actual sex scenes. It is also the first film I’ve seen that features a boy having his penis pulled by an adult woman as a punishment… that was an incredibly… awkward/uncomfortable scene.
So, what kind of film would feature scenes like this as well as those of a man having his penis cut off and a woman literally laying an egg. Well, In the Realm of the Senses tells the true (but fictionalized) story of Sada Abe – a woman famous in Japan for killing her lover in an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation before castrating him and carrying his parts around in her kimono.
To get to this point there is a lot of ground that needs to be laid in terms of their relationship. She, a former prostitute and him a married man that owns an inn. The chemistry between them is there from the word go and, much like Jeux d’enfants, this film becomes a game of sexual one-upmanship which results in his death.
Is the depiction of sex gratuitous? Yes, but you can’t tell this story without it. Also, it manages to walk the tightrope between art film and pornography since the scenes are so intrinsic to understanding the characters. I think seeing this as a gay man helped me to look past a lot of that and see this as a highly engrossing, erotically charged piece of film making. Although… it might take me a while before I hard-boil another egg.