How has cinema approached sex? Leave your inhibitions at the door and find out.
This collection includes films with sexually explicit scenes. Good sex scenes in cinema are few and far between, and rare is the film that dares to take sex seriously. From silly sex comedies in the 70s to the glut of steamy thrillers of the 80s and 90s, the act of sex has often been reduced to mere titillation. Not so with these explorations of the erotic, which veer from Britain’s first sex movie (Her Private Hell), a Palme d’Or-winning lesbian love story (Blue is the Warmest Colour), a work from Lars von Trier at his most provocative (Nymphomaniac) and a tale of lusty and murderous obsession at a French gay cruising ground (Stranger by the Lake).
Period drama2016146 minsDirector: Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) channels Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, to create a sumptuous twisty psychological thriller full of erotic intrigue.
Drama2007158 minsDirector: Ang Lee
Esteemed Taiwanese director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) returned to Asia once more for this startlingly erotic tale of espionage and obsession.
Drama201798 minsDirector: Eliza Hittman
Gripping account of repressed sexual desire in a hyper-masculine environment, with British newcomer Harris Dickinson as a virulently macho Brooklyn teen.
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)
Drama201594 minsDirector: Eva Husson
High-school students start a private orgy society in Eva Husson’s dazzlingly shot, no-holds-barred drama.
The Duke of Burgundy
Drama2014104 minsDirector: Peter Strickland
Peter Strickland’s visually and aurally intoxicating tale of sadomasochistic power-play is a daringly erotic sensory feast.
Théo and Hugo
Romance201697 minsDirector: Olivier Ducastel
A brief encounter at a naked sex club in Paris seems to be going well for Theo and Hugo, but a sudden realisation changes everything.
The Chambermaid Lynn
201490 minsDirector: Ingo Haeb
An obsessive-compulsive hotel cleaner who harbours a fetishistic fascination with her hotel's guests meets an enigmatic dominatrix who changes her world.
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
Documentary2016109 minsDirector: Fenton Bailey
An unflinching and sometimes graphic account of the life, art and legacy of the legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Fidelio, Alice's Journey
Drama201497 minsDirector: Lucie Borleteau
When Alice takes a job as a ship’s engineer her fidelity towards her shore-bound fiancé is tested when she discovers a former lover is the ship’s captain.
Thriller200795 minsDirector: Olly Blackburn
Nichola Burley and Jamie Winstone star in the yacht-set shocker, in which a teen sex party turns into a deadly fight for survival.
I Promise You Anarchy
201586 minsDirector: Julio Hernández Cordón
A pair of teenage skateboarders find themselves drawn into a murky criminal underworld in this distinctive thriller.
Trap for Cinderella
Drama2011100 minsDirector: Iain Softley
Emilia Fox delves into Tuppence Middleton’s repressed childhood memories, in Iain Softley’s erotic and elaborate psycho-thriller.
You and the Night
Drama201389 minsDirector: Yann Gonzalez
Eric Cantona and Beatrice Dalle star in an outrageous erotic fever dream about a couple who invite four diverse guests to their midnight orgy.
Drama197090 minsDirector: Lindsay Shonteff
When Suzy arrives in London to visit an old school friend, she is unwittingly plunged into the ruthless world of the ‘groupie’.
Strip! Strip! Hooray!!! Or (Fun with the Sunbathers)
Comedy193235 minsDirector: Norman Lee
Stuffed-shirt party pooper Sir Hector infiltrates a sunbathing camp full of scantily clad jazz-swingers in this 1930s comedy
Biopic201393 minsDirector: Jeffrey Friedman
Porn star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself abused by the industry and her maniacal husband– so she sets off to embrace feminism and, vitally, herself.
Drama1988106 minsDirector: Ken Russell
Ken Russell returns to D. H. Lawrence for the story of a young girl’s sexual awakening and immersion in a love triangle with both a man and a woman.
Nymphomaniac Vol. I
Drama2013118 minsDirector: Lars von Trier
Volume 1 of Lars von Trier’s explicit, controversial film about a woman recounting the history of her sexuality in episodic style.
Stranger by the Lake
Drama2013100 minsDirector: Alain Guiraudie
A young man witnesses a violent crime at a gay cruising ground and becomes obsessed with the killer in Alain Guiraudie’s acclaimed mystery-thriller.
Drama201469 minsDirector: Marçal Forés
A thrilling and disturbing exploration of the perils of illicit sexual encounters, beginning when a teacher initiates a tryst with one of his pupils.
The Book of Gabrielle
Drama201679 minsDirector: Lisa Gornick
Lisa Gornick's funny and frank drama sketches the relationship between a sex-obsessed lesbian illustrator and a randy hetero author, who bond over their favourite subject.
That Kind of Girl
Drama196377 minsDirector: Gerry O'Hara
A cautionary tale about VD and the dangers of free-love set against a backdrop of smoky jazz clubs and evocative London locations.
2010115 minsDirector: Pascal Ascandes Arnold
A sexually ambiguous Frenchman tours his native countryside with his naive American lover in pursuit of the ultimate thrill.
Historical drama197685 minsDirector: Paul Humfress
A distinctly bold and sensual reclaiming of gay history, Jarman here tells the sexually intense story of the 4th-century martyr.
Keep the Lights on
Drama2012102 minsDirector: Ira Sachs
A filmmaker escapes the pain of a break-up through casual sex and meets a closeted lawyer in this deeply personal work from Ira Sachs.