Film review: Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006), directed by Ed Blum
I wasn’t planning on watching this film, but as it started and I saw the cast list, I changed my mind. In alphabetical order: Holly Aird, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hardy, Douglas Hodge, Adrian Lester, Andrew Lincoln, Ewan McGregor, Gina McKee, Elle Mckenzie, Sophie Okonedo, Mark Strong, Catherine Tate, Polly Walker and Benjamin Whitrow.
I’m sure it also said to be a romantic comedy, and a romantic comedy with the above cast sounds like a must-see. The film is not so much a film, actually, but rather a collection of short stories about a number of people who spend a day on Hampstead Heath. Sort of like Love Actually but with more stories and without being written and directed by Richard Curtis.
There’s a gay couple where one of the men wants to adopt a baby, and the other one is less than keen. There’s a divorced couple who meet because their daughter is spending the day with her father. There’s a couple where the husband ogles a young French woman, and is caught out by his wife. There’s a woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend and immediately has an enthusiastic young man trying to cheer her up by hitting on her (badly). There’s an older man and an older woman who have been going to the same park bench for decades to remember the one that got away once upon a time … and this is the first time they’ve actually met. There are other couplings as well.
And it’s all very well and good, but I wouldn’t call it a film. There’s no single narrative, but just a collection of sub-plots of people who come together on the Heath on this particular day, and how their lives might change as a result.
The stories are generally touching, and it’s well-acted, but it wasn’t a romantic comedy. It wasn’t particularly romantic either, even though every short story was about relationships. It definitely isn’t a film I’d go and see in the cinema, simply because it’s perfectly good on a small screen.
It’s nice to see Hampstead Heath basking in sunshine on a summer’s day, but as a film, I’m not that keen, to be honest, despite the cast and the brilliant performances. The old couple is perhaps the most touching story of all, while the enthusiastic young flirt is just hilariously awkward. If you want to see Ewan McGregor kiss a man, bingo, this is the one for you, just like it is if you want to see Catherine Tate in a properly serious role.
But all in all, it’s a bit too slow-going and too episodic for me.
3 out of 5 park benches.