On General Release on Fri 12 Nov
“What was the inspiration for brilliantlove?” Ponders director Ashley Horner, when asked that very question by this interviewer. “…the British are notoriously crap at erotica, the French are good at it, the Germans are good at it… The Brits are perceived by the outside world as being either really kinky, or really repressed. And I wanted to make a film that captures the first few months of a love affair, where it’s absolutely mentally gorgeous.”
The topic of conversation, Horner’s latest film, brilliantlove, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year, had its European premiere at the EIFF in June. Written by Horner and screenwriter Sean Conway, from Conway’s short screenplay, Erotology, the film is set in a Northern English town, and follows an artist named Manchester (Liam Browne) and a taxidermist called Noon (Nancy Trotter Landry) as they document their passionate affair through explicit photographs over the course of a long hot summer. But when Manchester’s work is discovered and the couple are suddenly thrown into the excess of a heartless art world that threatens both their artistic talents and their relationship.
Made over a two and a half year period, from inspiration to filming, brilliantlove’s premise of young love, uninhibited sex and allusions to the study of erotology, split the reviewers at Tribeca, with some critics praising its poetic language and youthful idealism, and others criticising its distinct lack of realism.
I think for some people it was a really uncomfortable experience. …and for some members of the audience, it works fantastically…
Criticism that Horner is well aware of, “…some people say it’s a very idealised world they live in, how do they clean themselves, how do they keep the room warm, where’s the water coming from? Those questions are just not important.” Horner adds, “I think for some people it was a really uncomfortable experience.” He pauses, “And that’s not to say that they’re prudes or anything like that, but this film experiments with that feeling of what it is to sit in a building full of people you don’t know, and watch highly charged erotic imagery. And I think that’s interesting…and for some members of the audience, it works fantastically…”
…it questioned the nature of what makes something art, and what makes something pornography, which is one of the theoretical, intellectual things in the film….
While the film features numerous sex scenes, which have attracted most of the movie’s press and criticism, Horner is quick to point out that these scenes were filmed “… not to be exploitative in any way…no one’s done it [before]… it questioned the nature of what makes something art, and what makes something pornography, which is one of the theoretical, intellectual things in the film….”
The question of the plentiful sex scenes that make up brilliantlove, yields some interesting answers, as Horner reveals that the film was a “voyage of discovery” as neither he, Trotter Landry or Browne had filmed a sex scene before. But Trotter Landry is philosophical about the extreme nature of her film debut, simply saying, “I suppose if you haven’t done something before, you just set your bar to wherever…”
Carefully rehearsed over two weeks, Browne states that all three of them had, “…just talked about the characters and their background, and what motivates them, just trying to get our heads round it as much as possible, to make it easier once we were filming.” Trotter Landry agrees saying, “When we were rehearsing before the shoot, we had a fair amount of input and discussion about how the characters could be embodied, and Ash gave us a lot of time developing that and we had a chance to improvise, although largely the characters were there.”
But while the film has shocked audiences with its sex scenes, the real source of surprise for those involved with the film was its language, as Trotter Landry states, “The script was quite jaw dropping, wasn’t it, when we first….we thought the same thing, I mean, how the hell are we going to do this?” Horner agrees, “The language was very explicit. When you’re writing the script, that’s all well and good, but the sheer practicality of this, there were things that we just couldn’t film.”
So with all the hype surrounding brilliantlove, who should see it and why? “I think,” begins Horner, “that it’s certainly a late night movie to see with somebody you love, or somebody you want to love. I think it’s going to work really well at home on the big screen, on the big telly, because it’s a date movie really, just a very explicit date movie. I was asked by Time Out in New York what I wanted people to feel when they left the cinema, and I said wanted them to discuss the finer points of the European Cinema, and then go home and have really great sex.”
Sparking debate and igniting passions seems to be the message of brilliantlove, hailed as “brave” by Horner, Trotter Landry and Browne, this film is challenging and erotic, and the infamous scenes of a sexual nature, are really norm amongst people in love, as Browne states, “The thing about the sex scenes, is that they all seemed so natural, it’s what young people get up to, and if people think that’s unrealistic, then they must just have shit sex.”
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