Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taking a second look at S#x Acts (2013)

I originally saw Six Acts...er...S#x Acts (why did they change it? Especially since the on screen title is Six Acts) at Tribeca in April. My reaction on seeing the film was that it was good and that it reminded me of the Lemon Popsicle films from the 1980's that were big hits in Europe and Israel. I was largely wrong about that.

The film follows a girl named Gili who uses sex, six acts of it, in order to move "up" the social ladder and fit in at anew school. What starts out willing quickly goes sideways as what was consensual becomes less so and the up becomes a downward spiral.

This is a dark and troubling film that is more than about teens and sex,rather it resonates with the sexual dynamic of men and women in all age groups. The film is an examination of how sex is used as an act of control by both sexes. In the film the first act is by Gili who thought  she could turn it into getting a boy she liked and later by the well to do boys she ends up hanging with who end up using and abusing her. Its a pattern that plays out even in adults who should know better (trust me I know a few caught in the web). Ultimately sex and all the baggage it brings with it is just another way of keeping people in line or under control.

Seeing the film again, away from the weight of the films at Tribeca, I was surprised at how much better the film played. Actually it played so much darker and removed from the need to rush off to see another film right after it the darkness hung around me and made me feel like I needed to take a bath. I like it's no nonsense approach to saying this is the way things are... This male/female thing is really messed up.

On the other hand I find the film a tad off. By concentrating on the six acts we don't really get a larger context. The lack of context kind of reduces the men in the film to largely vile asses trying to score a little  and dominate the only girl. Additionally without more context Gili can be seen as being much too passive even if her behavior is dead on target. (Gili's passivity wrecked the film for some viewers). Without a larger context the film swerves very close to being a polemic even if it isn't.

Do I like the film? I'm not sure that one can like the film. I don't mean that as a slap, rather as praise since what happens in the film is deeply troubling and the sort of thing that would give any thoughtful person much to consider. I am deeply bothered by the film and its forcing me to think a great deal about male/female relationships.

I don't know what to say beyond that. I don't know how to react. This is a film I need to discuss. This is one of those films that is best seen with other people simply because it provokes dialog. Its a film that will require long discussions- which you don't always get when you watch a film alone. This was one I really wish I could have seen in a room full of other people so we could have discussed it afterward.

If you want to see something that will trouble you and make you think I highly recommend the film.

The film is currently in limited theatrical release and is available on iTunes and on demand.

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