Sirens (1993) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
28Jul/111

Sirens (1993)

Warning: Another one with fowl language. Sorry.

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

There's an essential difference between being told something and shown something. I can say the word 'penis' right now, and your mind will know what I'm referencing and you might momentarily be perturbed or even pleased by the thought. If I were to waggle a giant erect cock in your face, telling you to choke it down and enjoy it, your reaction may be a bit different.

Sirens is a film that slaps you in the face with its big erect cock. Sirens also thinks that this is hilarious and that you should be quite grateful for the experience.

Now, I'm not trying to put down the entire idea of having a cock slapped in your face as a bad thing, as I'm sure there are some people who enjoy it immensely. But this is not a film that tempts you to enjoy such a thing, as such a purpose is below it.

But I'm getting presumptuous, since we've spent an awful lot of time talking about cocks and very little about Sirens. Maybe it's for the best, but my responsibilities as someone who attempts to review movies may be in jeopardy. I may become known as 'The Cock Critic'.

God, I bet I could get 100,000 followers on YouTube with a name like that.

HELLO. THIS IS A METAPHOR.

Sirens stars Hugh Grant as a priest who drags his repressed wife from England to Australia at the turn of the 20th century to meet with an eccentric painter. Sam Neill's the painter, and he's creating outrageous and erotic pieces of art. The one that caused Grant's visit is a naked woman strapped to a cross, writhing in pain.

Neill oversees a wife, two daughters, and three young women from whom he draws inspiration. Two of the women are very open sexually, voraciously attacking men and attempting to ply their way with Grant's wife. The more demure of the sirens, played by a fairly young Portia de Rossi, has a crush on a rugged, blind nearby farmer who spends most of his days buff, nude, and wrestling with a massive erection. (And you didn't think I'd be getting back to that.)

As Neill refuses to yield, the couple find their defenses slowly lowered. Where religion meets eroticism is where this film pitches its tent, and there's certainly a lot of fertile ground to work with. Sadly, this film's duel between English repression and Australian brazenness never achieves much no matter how hard it flails.

The endeavor reeks of a predatory feeling; Grant and Fitzgerald's discomfort never translates into something beyond them being forcibly detached from their own sense of selves. Instead of a revelation, it feels like a violation.

Neill spends most of the film peering at the action like a peeping tom, and the director's use of constant snake imagery as a metaphor for the lead couple's sexual awakening is as laborious as it is painfully obvious.

Uh, yeah, that picture of the snake would have fit better here. Regardless, that's Fitzgerald on the left, the muses on the right, and the sound of my soul dying on the soundrack.

Worst of all are the titular sirens. The film paints them as rebellious, carefree creatures of whim and joy. In reality they're hollow creatures, inventions of screenwriters than of real emotion. Their platitudes ring true on the same level of the "Girl Power" as the original Charlie's Angels film or The Spice Girls. It's not a real way of living, but something they're trying to sell the audience into as some sort of emotional ponzi scheme.

All of that being said, the film looks quite good, and is wholly fearless-- it's hard to go into such wretched territory when a sense of shame is involved. The filmmaker's intentions to illustrate the beauty of sexual and emotional freedom is overwhelmed by the film's inability to stray into the arena of subtlety. Honestly, when it comes down to it, there are probably more emotionally satisfying Girls Gone Wild videos.

Posted by Danny

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  1. IIRC, when this came out, the advertisers gave up trying to pass it off as a serious film and just focused on Elle Macpherson being naked for their advertising campaign.

    I found it a lame “empowerment” movie written by writers who had no idea how to write empowerment, crafting it to an altered story of some artist they read a brief biography of. All the neat tricks by the director to pass the film off as something bigger fell flat, because there was nothing to back up the style. It came out the same year as The Piano, a much better film about sexuality and repression where Britain meets Oceana, which made Sirens even worse by comparison.

    And they both had full frontal dude nudity.


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