Russia's 5 main erotic films

Konstantin Bogomolov / START, 2019
Russia is still making its first steps in addressing the issue of sexuality and depicting it in a way that would make it believable on screen. Check out our selection of films to trace the evolution of eroticism in Russian cinema.

Angelica's Passion, 1993

Angelica has a strange and rare syndrome, sexual hyperexcitability, triggered by the sound of thunder. In a thunderstorm, control centers in her brain switch off and she has sex with whichever man happens to be nearby, after which he suffers amnesia.

This erotic trash comedy by Aleksandr Polynnikov has elements of mysticism and a detective story and could appear only in the early post-Soviet years, when suddenly absolutely anything was possible. So much so that, at times, Angelica's Passion borders on pornography. One of the characters even explains this permissiveness: "In some other place it may be porn, but here it is a visual aid!"

This crazy film presents an incredibly accurate reflection of its time with its total lack of sex education, culture and its degree of craziness. Take, for example, the perception of the filmmakers, and the general masses too, of what a sex therapist does (spoiler: a sex therapist is a specialist who people come to have sex with...)

Twilight Portrait, 2011

At first, Marina, a social worker, frequents the outskirts of a provincial town for rendezvous with her lover, a family friend, in his rented apartment. But after one such night, she is raped by a local police officer, after which she starts a secret love affair with him.

Angelina Nikonova's film has a strong line about a sexual pathology similar to Stockholm syndrome, an obsession with their abusers that some victims can develop, which makes it similar to Last Tango in Paris (in general, the film has a rather oppressive feel). But this movie is also a good social study, exploring similar themes as Elena, by a Cannes favorite, Andrey Zvyagintsev.

Locust, 2014 

A Moscow it girl starts a secret affair with a provincial builder, which leads to five years of mutual corruption, moral degradation and a couple of dead bodies.

The producers described Egor Baranov's Locust as an erotic thriller, but one should not expect the same amount of erotic tension in it as, say, in Basic Instinct. Here, sex is more of a metaphor for spiritual and moral corruption in big cities and is not shown that often. Although when it is shown, it is done with more artistic and sensual finesse than was common for Russian cinema in 2014. In other words, Locust is an attempt to establish the erotic thriller not as trash for a niche audience, but as a full-fledged, serious genre. Some people think the attempt is worthy.

Kept Women, 2019

The TV debut by the controversial theater director Konstantin Bogomolov has become a sensation in its portrayal of sex and the institution of kept women as an established phenomenon of Moscow high society. The archetypical story of a provincial girl conquering a large city was released as a TV series (in two seasons). By the end of episode two, the newcomer confidently occupies her "place under the sun". What follows are the vicissitudes of the everyday life of a kept woman intertwined with a criminal plot.

In terms of the amount of expertly filmed nudity, both female and male, Bogomolov's TV series is up there with the number of murders on Game of Thrones. The cast is like a telephone directory of beautiful and talented Russian movie stars: Alexander Kuznetsov, Sofya Ernst, Alexandra Rebyonok. This TV series will be a real find for lovers of sensual and graphic erotic scenes.

Fidelity, 2019

This film is the latest serious - and successful - attempt in modern Russian cinema to explore the genre of erotic drama. Nigina Sayfullaeva's Fidelity just recently premiered at Kinotavr, the main independent film festival in Russia, and received numerous favorable reviews. Film critic Alexei Filippov noted the emergence of a niche unique for Russian cinema, "where they know how to have sex, talk like in real life, and exist outside of moral judgements".

The story about a married couple in Kaliningrad, a city surrounded by Europe from all sides, is not about sexual emancipation, but about fragile heart-to-heart conversations within a family that has been hit by a crisis. Here sex is an integral part of spiritual, rather than bodily life, and the result is impressive.

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