I recently watched Eros. It is a movie featuring three shorts by famous directors on the subject of Eros. This left a lot of room for interpretation and I was hoping for something special. It was a mixed bag, at best.

Starting from my least favorite—

The segment by Michelangelo Antonioni seemed to be about the disintegration of an Italian couple at the beach. I say seemed. It was hard to believe either of these people felt much for each other and it was a mystery why they were still hanging out together. One reviewer described it as an extended Maserati commercial. There was a scene with sirens. There was another woman with whom the man had a one afternoon encounter. The two women cavorted nude on the beach and then ran into each other. That’s pretty much it.

He’s a director who’s made many famous films (none if which I’ve seen yet). This piece left me somewhat confused, but mostly I didn’t care about anyone in the short. (I thought the best part was the sports car that could tuck its side mirrors in like little ears to pass through narrow gates.) I know Italians can do Eros. The haunting Malena is a prime example. This piece is not.

The middling piece was by Steven Soderbergh. I wrote about his use of color in an earlier blog and this short showed his mastery of the use of color (or lack of it). It starred Robert Downey, Jr., of whom I’m becoming a fan. This piece was more about mind fantasy than about anything overtly sexual. The reason I liked this story at all was because it left the viewer with tons of questions, the answers which only you could figure out for yourself. A Rorschach blot of a movie, which worked only because it was so short.

The opening number, and the best piece of all, was by Wong Kar Wai. It was a beautiful story that would’ve actually had a happy ending (for a Wong Kar Wai movie), but he pushed the story one minute more in order to rip out the heart of his tailor-hero. Although I don’t know whether the last minute was based in reality or in the mind of the tailor, the end effect was the same: total romantic tragedy.

Wong Kar Wai has a certain genius for knowing how to mix lust, anger, sadness, loss, devotion and impossible dreams. The theme of wanting someone who does not want you is universal, yet he finds new ways of expressing it. (I’m beginning to wonder about his personal romantic history.) This film also stands about because not once do we see all of Gong Li (the object of the tailor’s obsessions), nor do we ever see her in the beautiful clothes the tailor has created for her. She’s sizzling hot and far more sexual than the other women in the other two movies (who all appear fully nude at points), yet she never appears in less than a normally-cut black bra.

This piece is an exercise in lust denied, both for the viewer and the tailor. Wong Kar Wai knows how to twist the heart, not by blatant manipulation, but because we’ve all been there and we relive it again onscreen.

If you’re a fan of Wong Kar Wai or Gong Li, Eros is worth renting for that alone. Otherwise, you could probably spend your time watching sexier movies.

My idea of an erotic movie? I don’t know. But it would have to feature Angelina Jolie, Monica Bellucci, Gong Li and maybe Sophie Marceau. Throw the voice of Michael Wincott into the mix somehow. That would be a start.

3 thoughts on “eros (the movie)

  1. Gong Li is a stunning elegant beauty no doubt and I was introduced to Wong Kar Wai’s mastery while in a undergrad film class.

    Thanks for the info, I will see it this weekend.

  2. Count me in with the Gong Li fans. I also happen to like Michael Wincott; he’s a terrific and underused actor, and I can see why you like his voice.

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