Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Desire Movie Poster Image
Sexually explicit story has nudity, drugs, violence.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Some mothers of questionable sanity invite home strange men to have sex with their teenage daughters. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

A sex-obsessed mother invites strange men she meets on the beach to come home and have sex with her teenage daughters. She watches. The mother drinks too much alcohol. She puts her hand on the behind of her daughter's fiancé. Just married, a man yearns for his new wife's sister.


A man is seen face down, dead, in a swimming pool, naked, reportedly just having had sex with his wife. Two men fight and one is beaten badly. Blood is seen. A man is found hanging from a tree, having committed suicide. A woman throws herself into a pool to commit suicide but is saved. A girl uses a hot ember to burn her vulva, seemingly to avoid sex with her boyfriend.


Many sex acts are shown. A man is attracted to his new wife's sister. He masturbates to audio tapes the sister recorded as a teen about her active sex life. Male full-frontal nudity is shown. A man thrusting into a woman is shown. A man's covered head is seen between a woman's legs as she moans. A man moans as a woman gives him oral sex. A man has sex with his wife from behind. He is naked. Penises, breasts, and nude behinds are seen. A mother intrusively asks her daughter what sex is like with the daughter's fiancé. A 9-year-old mimics riding a horse while watching a Western on TV, bringing herself to orgasm. Voyeurism is a frequent theme.


"F--k," "s--t," "vulva," "c--k," "penis," "d--k," "slut," "tramp," "bitch," and "coochie."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A mother feeds her young daughters over-the-counter medications and birth control pills. Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. A woman takes seizure medication to get high, even though she doesn't have seizures. People take Valium and sleeping pills regularly.

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love foreign films

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