The Loss of Sexual Innocence [1999]

Loss of Sexual Innocence - Adam&Eve-0024/10 | 14.Feb.13
The Loss of Sexual Innocence

DIRECTOR: Mike Figgis | WRITER: Mike Figgis | CAST: Julian Sands, Kelly Macdonald, Saffron Burrows, Stefano Dionisi, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Femi Ogunbanjo, Hanne Klintoe, Rossy de Palma | USA

Loss of Sexual Innocence - Sands&Macdonald-005If Mike Figgis’ The Loss of Sexual Innocence reminds me of anything, it’s Louis Malle’s Black Moon, another intensely personal film that aspires to recreate in extended form a symbol-laden dreamscape, but the comparison stops there. Louis Malle’s “dreams” were opaque to me, hermetic, and so personal to Malle himself that they resisted my cursory attempts to unpack what he was getting at. Although Figgis is clearly presenting an allegory rather than an actual dream or series of dreams, he all but subtitles the film with the master key, not that one is really needed since the symbolism is so obvious as to be generic. In a nutshell, Figgis plots the erotic history of his main character, Nic, at four points in his life — ages 5, 12, 16, and adult and married — against the story of Adam and Eve from their creation to their banishment from Eden. If that sounds hubristic, it is; it’s also pretentious and masturbatory and boldly crosses the line over into kitsch. Some scenes work well, others don’t, while there are side plots that feel tacked on. All that said, the film is beautiful on a purely visual basis and the soundtrack — solo piano pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin — is exquisitely chosen and played. I don’t particularly care for The Loss of Sexual Innocence, but I can’t bring myself to hate it either. And I was truly sorry when Adam (Femi Ogunbanjo) discovered his nakedness and put on clothes.

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