Kathryn Hahn, Jill Soloway, and Sarah Gubbins break down how the bold sex scenes can help women find their own voices — in the bedroom and beyond.
“We weren’t driving toward climax,” Gubbins said. “That’s not the point of those scenes. We’re not trying to construct a scene so it ends after he comes. It’s about what is going on in the pool that is stirring up that desire; the give and take; the volleying back and forth that the partners have that increases it. [It’s about] what is going to get us off in these particular moments, rather than this is a scene where we have to get to an ejaculation.”
“That, in some ways, is a tragedy for women,” Soloway said. “That they understand their sexuality in relation to how men see them. Our whole lives [we’re told] you get to have sex if you’re hot enough, and when you do have sex, act this way. And you know how to act because you’ve seen sex scenes on TV.”
Soloway’s goal when directing these scenes was to reverse this line of thinking and tell the scene from Chris’ perspective — a simple idea considering she’s the main character, but a bold statement considering filmmaking’s historically predominant male gaze.
“In many ways, just the bringing of the camera into a sex scene is inherently male because we’re so conditioned to do that slow pan — start at the feet and [Soloway moves her hands as if tracking up a woman’s body]. What I tell other directors I’m working with is that I don’t want to see with the camera. Put the camera in the place of the character’s need. Move the camera down into the gut, or in this case, a circular churning to pussy to mind and back again.”
This shooting style, this conscious shift in perspective, gives the scenes a distinctly independent authenticity. They’re not sneaking in glimpses of taboo body parts or painting a romanticized portrait of sex. Chris and Sylvere’s coupling — with very special guest, Dick (Kevin Bacon) — reveals information about our protagonist while freeing up the audience to imagine what desire can encompass.