List Film

Swung (4 stars)

Colin Kennedy’s sleek, funny and honest erotic drama stars the wonderful Elena Anaya

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Swung

The mainstream, narrative erotic movie has been somewhat sidelined since a significant part of its function was replaced by freely available online porn. The Spanish actress Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) starred in a fondly-remembered example of the form, Sex and Lucia, back in 2001, and now brings her redoubtable screen charisma to a bold attempt to bring it back – in, of all places, Scotland.

Swung is based on Ewan Morrison’s 2007 novel of the same name (and boasts a screenplay by the man himself), which cleverly meshed male sexual anxiety and the breakdown of traditional gender roles with the effects of the recession upon once-lucrative creative professions. Anaya plays Alice, a magazine journalist whose largely contented relationship with out-of-work graphic designer David (Owen McDonnell) is sexually stilted by his erectile issues and emotionally complicated by his incomplete divorce. Having discovered that voyeuristic fantasies turn them both on, the two begin to explore the world of swinging, and encounter if not the solution to all their problems, certainly a rich vein of social weirdness and sexual exploration.

Colin Kennedy, award-winning short filmmaker and regular second unit director to his Sigma Films colleague David Mackenzie (Starred Up), handles his debut feature with aplomb, emphasising the comic elements of Morrison’s novel without letting things slip into farce, and striking an intelligent balance between glamorising sexual sharing and pointing out the potential risks.

The film doesn’t delve as psychologically deep as the book, and some might feel that it lands too heavily on the suggestion that non-traditional sex lives are always symptomatic of damage and discontent – but it’s sleek, funny, and honest about life’s discomforts. Anaya is so warm and attractive that you can almost forgive her character’s weirdly 1970s habit of calling her partner ‘Daddio’; and Elizabeth McGovern of Downton Abbey fame has a winning supporting role as a surprisingly sensitive orgy queen.

Limited release from Fri 11 Dec.

Swung

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • UK
  • 90 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Colin Kennedy
  • Cast: Elena Anaya, Owen McDonnell, Elizabeth McGovern, Steven Cree, David Elliot, Allison McKenzie
  • UK release: 11 December 2015

Alice (Anaya) and David (McDonnell) have a largely contented relationship which is sexually stilted by his erectile issues, until they discover that voyeuristic fantasies turn them on. Director Kennedy emphasises the comic elements without turning it into farce, and Anaya is warm and charismatic. Sleek, funny and honest.

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