Does a Love Story need a Sex Scene?

April 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm 5 comments

This blog was inspired by watching Oblivion with Tom Cruise and a couple of women.  Now, I’m as big a prude as the next guy, but I’m going to say that if the driving force for the movie is that life is only meaningful when you have passion, then indeed, you need to show not tell.  There needs to be a sex scene.  Maybe then I would have really felt Jack’s relationship with Julia.Tom-Cruise-01-Oblivion  (Is it just me or is this image phallic?)

For example, when a man reunites with his wife after decades of being apart, a woman who he loves so intensely that he can’t forget her despite having his memory wiped out, I’m not not buying it without the sex scene.  It is not gratuitous.  A movie is a felt experience and if the protagonist is having a monumental feeling the audience should be let in on that.  Otherwise, why are we putting in the time to go on this journey with him?  It can be subtle or tasteful but it needs to be more than implied if the theme is driven by love.

So I started thinking, are there Romance movies that don’t have a sex scene?  Of course there are lots when you stop and think about it  like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, About a Boy, Hitch, many teen romances.  Tons more.  The key is to have a momentous first kiss – which is the first piercing of the intimacy boundary.  You wouldn’t for example, learn about the big kiss by having a friend tell a friend.  The kiss wouldn’t be implied.  Also, the movie has to end when the relationship starts if you are hell-bent on not having a sex scene.

I’m not saying Oblivion is a Romance but it is a story of love.  That’s what makes it an action story with a twist.  Love of Earth; love as a real connection.  Oblivion is first and foremost an action movie and there are fantastic visual images and some interesting new fight scenes.  The best part is all the twists and turns in the plot.  But the reason I would say it was not a great movie is because it has a theme of the importance of  real love, the felt experience.  This is supposed to be shown to be more important that the logical or evidentiary experience, yet it didn’t give us enough evidence of an understanding of love, in my view.

Entry filed under: Archetype theory, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sg  |  April 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    A ton of Hindi movies — which have had romance as an essential component, managed at least upto about thirty years ago, conveying passion in (nicely acted) songs without even as much as a kiss, but of course fairly deep in feelings. The poetic lyrics of these expressions fly over the heads of kids, or even a little older audience, or they could keep a straight face watching it, even with grandparents. 🙂 Seemed pertinent to the central question in the article.

  • 2. Love 2 Type  |  April 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    i love the movie. i don’t feel anything is missing because there’s no sex scene.. it felt even more poignant for me without it being so obvious…

  • 3. kellyrtillson  |  April 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Kim–I would recommend you watch Sweet Land ( for an excellent example of “less is more” visual filmmaking as far as seen physical contact vs. felt romantic fulfillment. There are some pretty pathetically chemistry-less sex scenes out there–sex doesn’t always equal passion. 🙂

  • 4. Lorne Agnew  |  April 29, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Kim: I’ll preface my comment by stating that I’ve yet to see Oblivion, so I’m responding on the general principle of your blog – romantic movie without sex plausible? – rather than the specifics.

    I’m going to offer muted, qualified support for your position. Yes, I agree that there needs to be a palpable expression of deep love, especially if the story involves a reuniting of the couple after a long period. The film would lack credibility if the allegedly love-struck protagonists didn’t somehow connect deeply and passionately.

    I’m not convinced though that it need involve sex scenes. As the previous responders have suggested, the necessary chemistry between a romantic couple can take many forms. The power of a couple’s passion and mutual desire is often more effectively depicted through sophisticated inference than graphic coupling (although I do think THE KISS fits the former category!).


  • 5. a  |  June 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Ooohh, great information you write it very clean. I’m very lucky to get this details from you. 😉


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