Scenes of a Sexual Nature (3 stars)

(15) 91min

Old school mates and new writing and directing team Aschlin Ditta and Ed Blum are to be congratulated for assembling an impressive cast, which includes Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Catherine Tate, Gina McKee, Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lester and Mark Strong, for their low budget debut. With the actors having agreed to work for Equity minimum (offset against a cut of the profits) and Blum having re-mortgaged his flat to raise part of the budget, the filmmakers took their project to financiers just two weeks before filming commenced. Talk about cutting it fine.

Needless to say, Ditta and Blum got the money to make the film, and the result, an ensemble rom-com set on sunny Hampstead Heath in London, looks pretty good. Unfortunately, the script, which examines relationships (mostly failing ones) from the standpoints of the various characters, is neither original nor profound (nor is it particularly romantic or funny). And while the cast is undeniably talented, there’s not much any of the actors can do with their individual vignettes, which have the undeveloped feel of scenes shot with little in the way of preparation. In one McGregor tells his boyfriend he wants to have kids, then skulks off for a shag in the local pond; in another Bonneville packs up his picnic and walks off in a huff after he spots his date McKee staring at a younger man. It’s left to old puffins Eileen Atkins and Benjamin Whitrow, whose unlikely (re)union is fermented on a park bench and then a long walk up a hill, to provide the film with any substance. Which isn’t much.

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