Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sex as an agent of discovery and hope: Mark Lewis & Ryan Balas' ENTHUSIASTIC SINNERS

Can a really good fuck -- no, no: I mean a really good fuck -- lead to discovery, growth and change for the two parties involved? Good question, and it is one that quite a number of movies have asked us viewers over the years, in their own special ways, of course -- from 1933's very interesting  Ecstasy to more relatively recent schlock like 9-1/2 Weeks and Fatal Attraction.

In their new and (it seems to TrustMovies) genuinely ground-breaking film, ENTHUSIASTIC SINNERS, writer/producer/ director Mark Lewis (shown at right) and cinematographer/editor Ryan Balas have given us a movie that answers that question in -- god bless us! -- a positive way by making the sex both believable and hot as hell (full-frontal for both the man and the woman) and the two characters interesting and worthwhile as human beings, but without making their situation in any way too easy or by tying up loose ends that need to be left untied in order for the film to be truthful about its central situation.

That situation is this: When a young, on-duty policeman (Christopher Heard, above) gets a call to investigate gunshots in a home nearby, he finds a widowed mother (Maggie Alexander, below), whose teenage son (along with his friends) have been up to dumb things that boys sometimes do. The cop and the woman talk a bit, she spilling out too-much-information at times, he listening with kindness, interest and a growing attraction. She's attracted, too.

The sex comes hot, hard, heavy -- and very believable. These two people talk to each other during sex, tell each other what they want or need, sometimes in a funny way that makes their union all the more real, moving and sometimes clearly fun, as well as often orgasmic.

In less than a 24-hour time period, it becomes clear, then clearer, that our protagonists, Bruce and Shelby, are a fine mix in terms of sexual compatibility, communication (both verbal and not), honesty, caring and neediness. Except that he is married-with-children, a fact that they and we both know almost from the start. Hence the film's on-the-mark title.

And while neither of our love-makers is all that religious, it is clear that they are, or try to be, genuinely moral, caring people. So where does that leave his wife, whom we never see, though he makes one phone call to her in the course of these proceedings?

Questions like this crop up during the course of the film, which is given over mostly to bouts of hot and heavy sex. Yet because Bruce and Shelby, their sexuality and their personae, are brought to life so remarkably fully, we must and do engage with them, their connection and even, to an extent, their lives prior to each other.

This is thanks to Lewis' writing and direction, both of which could hardly be more intimate and real, and to photographer/editor Balas' contributions, which manage to put us right there, amidst the lovemaking, without making us seem voyeurs. (I was surprised that my spouse, who is a good deal more prudish than I, had no problems whatsoever with any of the sex scenes.)

The performances of Mr. Heard and Ms Alexander are about as close to perfect as you could ask. They capture the most intimate moments, as well as all the heat, with utter specificity and truth. Both actors are attractive without being "model" pretty. Her body is actually a bit more "toned" than his, though his is certainly attractive, while his ample cock, which I believe we sometimes see in a slightly semi-erect state, is a nice turn-on, too.

Even with all the nudity on view, I don't see how you could call the film in any way pornographic. It's too real and honest, and its intent is to strip these two people down to, not mere nakedness, but to their very character and soul. The film also tells us that sex can be genuinely liberating and positive -- rather than something violent or power-hungry or stupidly comedic, which is what we get much more often in movies.

Instead we witness this unusual day and night, and when we leave Bruce and Shelby, though much has changed for them, we simply do not know what the result of this will be. I would love to see Netflix or Amazon take a real chance and give us an ongoing series. If these two are the soulmates they seem to be, what will this mean to his wife and kids, to her son, to his job and all the rest? What an amazing meaningful journey -- for everyone involved -- this could be. (And not something tiresomely second-rate, as that cable series The Affair turned out).

Meanwhile, Enthusiastic Sinners, running just 85 minutes, is available now to rent or buy via iTunes, with a DVD release to come on October 8. If you have any interest in discovering what an exploration of honest-to-goodness, active-positive sexuality can offer, here's your chance. 

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