Skin. Like. Sun.: The Sweet and Sexy Slowness of Sex

Skin. Like. Sun. (2009; original title is Des Jours Plus Belles Que La Nuit) is an art hous’y sex film made by Jennifer Lyon Bell and Murielle Scherre that lingers on the sweet and sexy slowness of sex. Stylistically, the film combines the strength of each filmmaker: the cinematic realism and fine eye for close-ups with texture of Jennifer and the indie rhythm and esthetics of D.J. and lingerie designer Murielle.

Filmed in near real time, the film follows a real-life couple spending an afternoon having sex in the sun-washed rooms of an empty old house (the couple is also featured in Murielle’s documentary styled shorts on J’fais du porno et j’aime ça; “I make porn and I love it“). Far from porny looking, the woman and man are attractive in their indie, tattooed, subtly sexy and emotionally naked way. And their mutual affection and chemistry emanate from the picture.

Originally the filmmakers’ idea was to capture how sex looks like from her perspective, but in the end they realized that would detract from also capturing what she feels. And the film well captures his deeply felt adore for her in his eyes and caresses. 

At about 55 minutes in length, the film is unique too for its focus on foreplay. It also captures that dizzying bubble of pleasure as the intensity soars and the couple lose themselves to the moment. The pulsing rhythms of the almost metallic sounding soundtrack before the intimate sounds of the couple’s breaths and sex take over, surrounded by a nostalgic lyrics sung by a raspy male voice and insistent guitar strokes, work well to further develop the atmosphere.

There are no distinct episodes on Skin. Like. Sun., but bridging the sex that the couple have is an interlude with a distinctly different feel from the rest of the film, dividing the film into two sections. After exploring the house, the couple make slow and sweet love in the main room on the wooden floor. They get dressed while talking softly and then move into another room with sheepskins on the floor. An almost sinister but also upbeat rhythm sets in as the couple begin to fool around again. And whereas the first part reflects more of Jennifer’s eye for close-ups with texture, this second part signals Murielle’s penchant for creating textures through a creative mixture of techniques, combining spinning camera movements and dissolving images that bleed in and out of each other, the reflection of the sun in the lens, the picture blurry.

Then they giddily move on — up the stairs, through rooms and hallways, teasingly and playfully chasing each other around. They end up in the bathroom where they have sex again leaning up against the wall, then seated on the toilet. She comes, then he. And again they come to, they smile and talk quietly, giggly, and wipe themselves off with toilet paper before he lovingly helps rinse off her legs in the bathtub.

Skin. Like. Sun. was made upon invitation by the Belgian feminist festival Stout(ste) Dromen [Your wild(est) dreams] in Antwerp where it premiered in October 2009; and it premiered internationally in conjunction with CineKink NYC in February 2010. Included as extra material on the DVD are interviews with the filmmakers and the performers sharing their views on feminism and what makes Skin. Like. Sun. a feminist film, in particular in how it captures mutual love and respect, and in how it focuses on her experience and what real unscripted sex is like for her, and for him. (The couple make sure to point out that they don’t always act this sweetly when they have sex; that they can be rough too! But that sweetness fit “the vibe of the moment” in a beautiful space.)

The couple also stress that acting the way they did became possible for them only because of the connection they felt with Murielle and Jennifer; a fundamental sense of trust and respect that allowed the couple to relax and feel free to just be like themselves. And they talk about what taking part in the film has meant to them, including the gift of seeing the beauty of their sex on film and how they now feel even more free and natural in their sex life. She also mentions becoming more sure about her body, and how the removed perspective of watching the film on television highlighted how sweetly he actually looks at and touches her when they have sex. How you learn more and get deeper into each other.

(This post is an excerpt from my book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters, forthcoming fall 2012.)

Quizzical Mama

Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, PhD, is a former academic turned public educator, author, speaker, freelance writer, and mama- and sex blogger. Her book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters (Zer0 Books, October 2012) has been called “a goldmine for all sex-positive women and men,” and a “candid, well-informed personal story of how a good girl became involved in porn." She writes mores about progressive porn and sex-positivity in her New porn by women blog and at her resource site Love, Sex, and Family, and she muses about life and parenting in her Quizzical mama blog. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota, a small college town just south of the Twin Cities, with her spouse and their preschooler daughter. You can follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @quizzicalmama.

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