Most of us are used to porn delivered in single servings, the “night on the town” equivalent of straight-up shots. There are different flavors of course: vodka, tequila, spankings and blowjob quickies. But what about when you want to sit down and enjoy it? What about the intentional, slow and psychologically rich experience of a great wine at a sit-down dinner, or of a great aged whiskey on a summer patio? Well, porn movies are the adult entertainment equivalent of these. I’ve been watching a few of these and thought I’d share a first review with you.
Torn (2012) is a 110 minute full-feature film by Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell for New Sensations Couples detailing the budding but difficult relationship between Drew (Steven St-Croix) and Mimi (Remy La Croix). Drew is dully but lovingly married to independent Christine (India Summer) since no less than 20 years when he meets earnest art student Mimi at his colleague Vicky’s (Raylene) anniversary. Complications soon arise, and we follow the characters as they navigate the taboo world of illicit affairs.
The story develops honoring the complexities of such real-world relationships, all the while putting front row and center hot, pulpous sex as the stars are in the habit of delivering (although in often very different circumstances). Raylene’s acting performance stood out to me especially, given her very sex-positive character and fun-infused delivery. Although the story is very traditional in its gender roles (Drew is the one having an affair with the much younger Mimi and is a male protagonist like in the overwhelming majority of Hollywood films), St-Croix appears boyish and vulnerable enough as Drew to cater a believable connection with the young Mimi, who herself delivers a seamlessly natural acting performance.
As far as character development, I might have liked more empathy-inducing material to render Drew’s wife Christine more dimensional; Because of the inherent coldness her character, I found it harder as a viewer to cultivate the supposed mental battle that must have been going on inside Drew’s torn head and heart. This coupled with St-Croix’s occasionally prematurely aroused outreaches (common giveaways in porn scenes or films) broke some of the film’s magic; I wanted to be surprised by the sex, to be slung into the moment, following the character’s mental and emotional foray into sexual ecstasy. St-Croix was always the one initiating sex and it felt unreal to me – Mimi and Christine didn’t seem to have much drive of their own, working mostly like cars turned on only by an external force and driven to destination. In the same vein, when Mimi, at her wit’s end, had sex with her roommate, the magic was momentarily broken when she dutifully dropped to blowjob-giving-position mere seconds after being seduced by him. The cue felt too early for what would have been believable character psychology and instead felt very “porny”, since they were just friends until then and that none of her body language previously hinted at attraction, let alone arousal. Her roommate’s attraction was foreshadowed… why not hers? Would it have been too “slutty”, breaking her good-girl image? No. On the contrary, a flicker of attraction to the young man, quickly brushed aside by her love for Drew could have added dimension to her sexuality and emotions, showing that by entertaining the affair she was constantly making a choice while Drew deliberated.
Torn is a great example of porn that happens to be in a smart movie and follows reasonable timelines, and simply put, of a great movie that happen to feature explicit, hot sex motivated by a wide array of emotions and contexts. Directors Eddy Powell and Jacky St. James did a stellar job with Torn in featuring full-on smart sex that was hardcore but not gynocological, keeping with the overall style of the movie’s storytelling. They told a compelling and engaging narrative and gave depth and elegance to a somewhat controversial topic.
Furthermore, Torn‘s weaknesses are common misdemeanors of modern porn movies: Alongside more realistic depictions of gender and feminine sexuality, the challenge ahead is to mesh the sex with the story-line in so far as to feel like there never was this censorship to begin within the first place, making the inclusion of these sex scenes sensical and intrinsic to the story… And what an attainable goal! After all, sex in real life doesn’t happen in a vacuum (unless you’re into that). Instead, for better of for worse, sex moulds our relationships, impacts our lives and manifests our character to ourselves and to others, and there’s no reason porn couldn’t reflect all of that.