Sexually explicit story has nudity, drugs, violence.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Desire, an explicitly sexual Argentinian film, should not be confused with the Marlene Dietrich 1936 film of the same name. Definitely not for kids, this is a kind of soft-porn montage of sex scenes -- including full-frontal male nudity and bare breasts in some cases -- interspersed amid dramas involving two jealous sisters, their unstable mother, and all of their sexual past adventures, many of which they have shared. Teen girls give oral sex to young men. The mother watches. A 9-year-old mimics riding a horse while watching a Western on TV, bringing herself to orgasm, which the mother mistakes for an epileptic seizure. This leads to lifelong medication, including barbiturates, Valium, and sleeping pills. Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. There's death, too. A hanged body is seen. A suicide is attempted. The girls' father died naked in a swimming pool when they were young. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "vulva," "c--k," "penis," "bitch," and "coochie." Again, this is emphatically not appropriate for kids.
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What's the Story?
Set in the late 1960s heyday of Brazilian soccer star Pelé, DESIRE goes back and forth in time to show the dysfunctional relationships among a sexually unhinged mother and her two competing daughters. Ofelia (Carolina Ardohain) is awakened sexually at the age of 9 when she casually mimics riding a horse while watching a Western on TV, bringing herself to orgasm. Her mother (Andrea Frigerio) is open about her sexual desires, and after her husband dies in their swimming pool after having sex with her, she takes on a pet snake and sleeps with him while she masturbates. She invites strangers, two young brothers, into the house to have sex with her teenaged daughters and watches. Years later, after a falling-out between the sisters, Lucia (Monica Antonopulos) marries Juan (Juan Sorini). The mother secretly invites Ofelia (who travels from her home in the jungle) to the wedding. Juan becomes obsessed with her and steals audio tapes Ofelia once recorded about her youthful sexual exploits. He plays them in his bathroom while masturbating naked. When Lucia enters after one of those sessions, he has sex with her. Flashbacks show that one of the brothers the girls dated committed suicide after Lucia pressed Ofelia to betray him with his brother. Cheating breaks up a couple and a suicide attempt seems to bring the sisters closer together.
Is It Any Good?
This film isn't appropriate for kids and isn't a particularly good movie besides, even for those seeking titillation. Porn tends to downplay story to expedite its goal: supplying sexual content. Desire's openly sexual content doesn't really advance its disjointed story any better than fleeting sexual scenes would have, so the intent here is clearly to provide the titillation. Often it feels as if the writer meant to infuse the movie with more meaning than it contains but didn't have the skills or clarity to do so, and for that reason many scenes are unintentionally hilarious. Still, looking for those laughs isn't worth slogging through any of the movie's tedious and overwrought 93 minutes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Desire and the place in the arts for erotica. Do innuendo, suggestion, and leaving something to the imagination work better in artful movies than blatant graphic depictions of sex? Why or why not?
Do you think that since sex is a part of life it's legitimate that artists, writers, and filmmakers may want to explore it in their work? Why or why not? Do you think there's a productive way to explore sex in art that doesn't also simply titillate?
How do you think the filmmaker here uses sex: as exploration or titillation?
- On DVD or streaming: October 17, 2017
- Cast: Carolina Ardohain, Monica Antonopulos, Juan Sorini
- Director: Diego Kaplan
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: August 19, 2022
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