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(1999) (Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows) (R)

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Drama: A series of short episodes, paralleled by a modern retelling of the Adam & Eve story, highlight bits and pieces of a man's life.
Told in a disjointed, nonlinear fashion, a series of short stories highlight bits and pieces of various stages in a man's life. Nic (JULIAN SANDS) is a married filmmaker and parent who's traveled into the desert with audio man Lucca (STEFANO DIONISI) and one of two twins (SAFFRON BURROWS) to make a film.

During this, brief scenes show Nic at the ages of five (JOHN COWEY) in Kenya, as well as an overweight twelve-year-old boy (GEORGE MOKTAR), and a sixteen-year-old young man (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS) when he was amorous with a young woman, Susan (KELLY MACDONALD). At the same time, a modern retelling of the story of Adam (FEMI OGUMBANJO) and Eve (HANNE KLINTOE) unfolds, presumably serving as a symbolic parallel to Nic's life.

Unless they're a fan of someone in the cast, director Mike Figgis ("Leaving Las Vegas") or perhaps are drawn by rumors of the film's nudity and sex, it's highly unlikely.
For strong sexual images, pervasive nudity, violence and language.
  • JULIAN SANDS plays a filmmaker about whom we know very little. We do see him, however, having sex with his wife and hear him having sex with one of the twins (a presumed affair).
  • SAFFRON BURROWS plays two twins, one of whom has a presumed affair with Nic, while she or her twin is seen with another woman in her bed, and uses strong profanity.
  • STEFANO DIONISI plays a sound man who smokes, gets upset about one of the twins sleeping with Nic and then accidently runs over and kills a desert boy.
  • KELLY MACDONALD plays a young woman who gets drunk after a funeral and briefly fools around with 16-year-old Nic.
  • JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS plays Nic at sixteen who sexually fools around with Susan at her parents' house.
  • FEMI OGUMBANJO and HANNE KLINTOE play modern versions of Adam and Eve who explore each other's body, urinate in front of one another and then have passionate sex before being chased out of "Eden."


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    Amateur filmmaking and film school projects are usually the traditional vehicles for experimental cinema. An exercise in breaking the standard Hollywood formula of storytelling, experimentalism is a good thing. It not only allows filmmakers the chance to break out of the usual mold, but also to attain, train and then express their own artistic voice.

    While such films often don't make any sense except to those directly involved in their production, the good thing about them is that they're usually only seen by their creators, classmates, instructors and friends or family.

    From that point on and after having found their "voice," such filmmakers either succumb to the financial incentive of making films the Hollywood way or manage to stick to their guns and stay independent, telling their stories in their own unique fashion. Others, of course, simply quit and take up other professions.

    Whatever their course of subsequent action, most usually give up any ideas of further dabbling in experimental cinema. That's not apparently true, however, for writer/director Mike Figgis. Best known for his critically acclaimed film, "Leaving Las Vegas," Figgis has long wished to film an unconventional idea of his where he'd offer viewers an essentially plot-less movie filled with seemingly incongruous scenes and images.

    That would then leave it up to the viewer to fit those pieces together however they liked to make their own picture, a sort of salad bar approach to movie making. Up until now, and for various, but completely understandable reasons, however, the idea remained unfilmed for nearly two decades.

    Unfortunately he didn't heed those reasons, and the resulting picture, "The Loss of Sexual Innocence" is one that should have remained unmade or, at best, left in the classroom or perhaps stuck on the family video shelf.

    A hodgepodge of scenes and concepts so disjointed, occasionally confusing and generally odd that not even the strongest of hallucinogens -- let alone days or weeks back in the editing booth -- could instill meaning on this mess, this film is the epitome of experimental cinema (at its worst or perhaps best depending on how you view such matters).

    While I'm sure the film will have some supporters -- the kind who like things not particularly because they're good, but simply due to their unconventional and/or unusual nature -- it clearly won't entertain or make sense to the everyday moviegoer or, for that matter, film critic.

    The film does feature some striking visuals courtesy of cinematographer Benoit Delhomme ("The Winslow Boy," "Artemisia"), particularly involving the Adam & Eve scenes and the lake from which they literally emerge. The often used rippled reflections on it nicely symbolize the obvious trouble and "bigger waves" looming ahead.

    The film is also moderately interesting for the first thirty minutes or so as one tries to figure out exactly what's occurring. However, like a jigsaw puzzle that never ultimately fits together into an agreeable, let alone understandable picture, the end result of experiencing this film is akin to never solving the puzzle and thus being subjected to simply being forced to watch the jumbled box of said pieces.

    To make matters worse, beyond not having any idea of what's happening as scenes randomly come and go, the characters are just as nebulous. Sketchily drawn at best, we never know much of anything about them -- nor get the chance to -- and consequently don't care about them or their stories. They're just another piece of the puzzle that never gets solved. As such, the performances, while consequently and somewhat appropriately mysterious -- but really only by default -- neither draw us into the story nor the characters.

    Julian Sands ("Boxing Helena," "Warlock") plays the lead character in a role that seemingly would have gone to the likes of Jeremy Irons had the film been more conventional or had a bigger budget. With little dialogue and essentially no story with which to work, Sands plays the role as seriously as possible, but simply seems lost within the labyrinth of disjointed scenes.

    The same holds true for Saffron Burrows ("In the Name of the Father," the upcoming "Deep Blue Sea") who plays a set of mysterious twins. Despite the dual character role and thus twice the screen time, she ends up being more of a visual element than a real and/or identifiable character.

    While Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Kelly MacDonald at least get to play some briefly interesting characters (in a somewhat steamy teen make-out scene), Stefano Dionisi's audio man character is considerably less developed, and newcomers Femi Ogumbanjo and Hanne Klintoe are visually striking, but otherwise don't do much beyond sauntering around buck naked or peeing in front of each other.

    Some interest is revived late in the proceedings when a trip through the desert turns volatile and is paralleled with Adam & Eve's outing from "paradise." Although nearly any scene that's accompanied by Beethoven's powerful "Ode to Joy" will automatically seem more vibrant and intriguing, Figgis finally gives the audience something that's exciting. Unfortunately, it occurs far too late in the film to save it from its otherwise unsuccessful, experimental nature.

    It's not completely impossible to understand what Figgis is ultimately trying to do with this picture, and some may applaud his bravado for marching to his own drummer and presenting it in a style that few would argue is anything short of unique. The end result, however, is a disjointed mess that constantly holds the audience at arms length and comes off as frustrating and/or boring instead of compelling or inspirational. Like a failed science experiment, this one's blown up in his face. As such, we give "The Loss of Sexual Innocence" a 2 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Several sexual encounters occur with nudity, movement and sounds, while male and female full frontal nudity (as well as brief, graphic urination from both) is also present in many scenes. Most of that nudity (and one sexual encounter) comes from a modern retelling of the story of Adam and Eve that may offend some Christians.

    Profanity, while not too abundant, is heavy due to the use of at least 9 "f" words. Several violent incidents occur where people are murdered or killed, sometimes with bloody results. We also briefly see black and white photos of other victims of unidentified violence.

    Beyond that, some smoking and drinking also occur, with a teen seen drinking and stating that she wants to get drunk after a funeral. Although it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, due to the extreme nudity and sexual activity, you may want to take a closer look at the content if you're concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home.

  • At a post-funeral reception we see some people drinking, including Nic who appears to be drinking a beer and Susan who's drinking wine and states that she wants to get drunk (after Nic tells her she should take it easy). We then see her drinking a shot of liquor and then later vomiting from being drunk.
  • A middle-aged woman drinks.
  • Adult Nic and his wife drink wine.
  • A man has a drink on an airplane and we later see a bottle of liquor/wine fall from his bag and break upon hitting the floor.
  • We see Susan vomit (from being drunk).
  • We briefly see some black and white photos of dead people including a woman with some blood beside her (reportedly stabbed), and a suicide victim with blood all over him and the wall behind him.
  • We see a covered body on a stretcher and see blood dripping from the victim's ear.
  • We see blood on the street next to a man who's just been knifed (in a dream).
  • We see both Adam and Eve urinating in the water (rather graphically).
  • We see Eve vomit.
  • We see blood on a boy (as well as around him) who's been struck and killed by a truck. We also see blood on one of the twin's hands.
  • A person who's been stabbed to death is a little bloody.
  • Christians may not appreciate the film presenting Adam and Eve as is done in this film (including having sex in a dilapidated house and urinating in front of one another).
  • People laugh at a blind lady who's trying to deal with other dogs trying to mate with her seeing eye dog and don't try to help her.
  • A P.E. teacher has a young and overweight Nic run through a line of classmates who hit him with their shoes (as a way of humiliating him).
  • Those responsible for seen or implied deaths obviously have both.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be suspenseful to some viewers.
  • We briefly hear the story of a man who committed suicide via a gunshot wound. We then hear a gunshot (out of context) and then see a black and white photo of the dead and bloody suicide victim.
  • Adult Nic acts like he has a gun in his pocket to make a bothersome man go away.
  • Knife: Used by that man to stab Nic in the back (during a dream).
  • Knives: Used to stab a person to death.
  • Phrases: "Freakin'," "Bollocks" and "Shut up."
  • A snake suddenly moves while Eve looks at it.
  • Some odd music plays during several scenes.
  • None.
  • At least 9 "f" words (2 seen in English subtitles), 2 "s" words, 1 use of "bollocks," and 5 uses of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "Oh Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • We see a young woman in her bra, panties and garters (as the camera pans up her body in a closeup) in some sort of language/reading lesson in front of an old man.
  • Looking for Susan, Nic finds her lying on a bed making out with another guy.
  • As Nic goes into a public bathroom stall, we see all sorts of small pictures/magazine cutouts on the floor and in the toilet, some of which appear pornographic (looking like women's genitals, etc...) but they're only seen for a split second.
  • We see Eve emerge from a body of water and walk toward the camera, first showing her bare breasts and then full frontal nudity (for half a minute or so).
  • We see teenage Nic and Susan sneaking around her parents' house trying not to wake them. They make out in the kitchen with him running his hand up the inside back of her sweater but she stops him. They then go into the living room where she lies down on the floor, they make out, and he again tries to put his hand on her breasts or up inside her sweater and then tries to put his hand up her skirt. She's nervous about her parents and stops him, but he says they won't hear anything. Thus, she then lets him put his hand up her skirt and they continue making out. He then gets on top of her between her legs, but her father then comes out and interrupts them.
  • We see an out of focus reflection on the water of Adam and Eve completely nude and from a distance.
  • As his wife cuts carrots, Nic comes up behind her and sensuously fondles her clothed breasts. He then unbuttons her blouse and we see him caressing/squeezing her nipple. This eventually arouses her and he then pulls up her skirt and has sex with her from behind while still caressing her breast. We see this from in front of her and see movement and their reactions, but no additional nudity.
  • We then see a sequence titled "Her Dream" where Nic's wife pulls off her nightgown as she enters a club, revealing her in a low-cut teddie/lingerie with garters that shows nearly all of her breasts and we occasionally see her nipples. Wearing that same outfit, she then gets on top of a man on a bed and we hear sexual sounds, but don't see any movement and the scene ends there.
  • Some nuns walk along comment that a fifteen-year-old girl, who's just given birth to twins, had sex with everyone in the village.
  • We see one of the twins' bare butt as she gets into a shower.
  • We see one of the twins in several different bras, one of which is rather transparent.
  • We see that one of the twins is in bed with another woman (who's sleeping).
  • We see the side of a woman's bare breasts as she looks out her window, standing there nude.
  • Adam and Eve both show full frontal nudity. We then see a urine stream from Adam's penis and then see the same from Eve's genitals. As they explore their different bodies, he touches her breast and then bends over and looks at her crotch. We then see her handling his penis.
  • As Eve walks through the woods, we see various full frontal nude shots of her.
  • We see a dog mount a seeing eye dog and try to mate with it.
  • Using his microphone at night, Lucca picks up sounds (moaning) of Nic and one of the twins having sex.
  • We see another full frontal view of Eve and then see that her hand covers her crotch as Adam amorously looks at her. We then see Eve on top of Adam on an old bed in a dilapidated house and see the movement of her putting him inside her. Intercut with that is a scene where Lucca plays back the recording of earlier sexual sounds in a truck. We then see Adam on top of Eve having sex with lots of movement (although we don't see full nudity now) as the sexual sounds still play inside the truck.
  • We see more full frontal nudity of both Adam and Eve as they're chased out of "Eden."
  • Lucca smokes several times, while one or both of the twins also smoke. Susan and a man who later makes out with her smoke, as does her father and other miscellaneous characters.
  • We see a funeral scene and the family members/relatives' reaction to the death.
  • Although nothing's ever explained about it, Nic's wife doesn't seem happy with him.
  • Exactly what type of story this picture is trying to tell.
  • How the entire Adam & Eve bit is presumably supposed to symbolize what's happened and is happening to Nic.
  • We briefly hear the story of a man who committed suicide via a gunshot wound. We then hear a gunshot (out of context) and then see a black and white photo of the dead and bloody suicide victim.
  • In a dream, adult Nic pushes a man to the floor who was bothering him and then acts like he has a gun in his pocket to make him go away. That man then later returns and stabs Nic in the back with a knife (we don't see the cutting/insertion).
  • One of the twins tries to help a blind lady who's trying to ward off some dogs, but ends up getting hit by the cane the woman is wildly swinging around her.
  • There's talk of a tribe discovered in the '50's that captured enemies and then had their four and five-year-old kids beat that person to death (and then the tribe would cook them for food).
  • A P.E. teacher has a young and overweight Nic run through a line of classmates who hit him with their shoes (as a way of humiliating him).
  • Lucca, Nic and one of the twins struggle inside a moving truck. As such, they don't see a young boy that they then strike and kill with the truck.
  • People pull out knives and stab a woman to death (they stab her in her back which is away from the camera, plus our view is somewhat obstructed by other people).

  • Reviewed June 11, 1999 / Posted June 25, 1999

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