Ellen Talks About On Screen Chemistry

On Screen Chemistry/Who Convinced Me Of Celluloid Love

To mark the upcoming DVD release of What Happens In Vegas I have decided to write about some of the films in which the stars have sizzled their way into my lusty loins to convince me of their on screen love. I have also mentioned a few who have not. Apart from the one above.

I was on a plane recently and realised that the only thing I had not seen from the film selection was Made Of Honour my only experience of this film being some Mark Kermode bashing, and although I do trust mostly everything he says this was a long flight and I did not want to watch Lord Of The Rings for the umpteenth time. I submitted myself to it knowing it would be bad. Also the fact Michelle Monaghan was in it made it seem like it would be slightly more bearable.

I was wrong.

My thoughts after viewing it were as follows:

Dear God someone should send Patrick Dempsey to the bottom of the Ocean, he has one role he can do and that is Dr. McDreamy and that is all, I hope his foot goes to sleep for ever and it really annoys him.

Scottish people will not like this film since it takes every single stereotype and morphs the country itself into a land of bagpipe playing, kilt wearing and whiskey drinking where no one is as lovely or friendly as the Americans who visit it.

There is no sexual chemistry between the leads due to the fact they are both awful people. There is not the slightest hint of believability that they were best friends to start with let alone audience willingness for them to end as lovers, they both deserve to be exploded.

This tangent brings me on to good chemistry and Kiss,Kiss Bang,Bang in which Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. are excellent, and I spent the entire film just rooting for some kind of pay off kiss, even though typically I don’t like seeing anyone kiss Mr Downey Jr. on screen (upsetting) least of all someone skinnier then me. That’s how I knew they had good on screen chemistry, when I wanted even in this very silly (for the right reasons) film the leading couple to smooch. When they did it resulted in a little “woo” in my cynical heart.

So here are some notable films I think contain actors who have that sexual and wonderful chemistry that makes me believe a little bit in celluloid love.

Lets start with Rachel Weiz and Hugh Jackman in Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, a confusing beautiful mess of a love story documenting love vs mortality across several different time genres. This film’s plot is hard to explain succinctly due to the fact that I did not completely comprehend what was going on. Weiz’s character has cancer and Jackman is doing monkey experiments related to regeneration from death… and then there is a tree, a Spanish queen and a floating bubble…. However it was one of those films where complete understanding is not necessarily important due to the underlying message combined with the on screen chemistry between the two leads actors.

It was a film to be appreciated for it’s central themes of love and loss, and not dissected. Basically I cried a lot in it, and Weiz and Jackman made my heart break a little bit. But then I got some flintstones band aids and stuck it back together again.

Next we move on to The Notebook, and before you all groan in unison and wonder whether you are reading the Glamour site by mistake, I know it is massive in its failings and its methods of emotional blackmail are pathetic BUT I like it so screw you.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams have some sexy chemistry in it and I find her an admirable female character, feisty yet slightly vulnerable and although Gosling is a bit monosyllabic you can tell they are totally doing it in real life. They have some real life sparks going on which is evident on screen and do some amazing kissing in the rain scenes which I thought Four Weddings And A Funeral had ruined forever. The premise of this film is that some old lady with Alzheimer’s is being read a story by a old man which we see unfolding on screen, and it is the story of how they got together but she can’t remember it (and she is wearing some questionable shoulder padded jacket.)

Unfortunately you can see this “twist” a mile off and the old Gosling and McAdams look NOTHING like the past Gosling and McAdams at all…..

Well they do if they had changed facial shape and had been involved in some kind of serious car accident…. Anyway it made me have that fuzzy feeling of wanting some kind of great epic romance which I have not had since I saw Shakespeare In Love. (Yes I know.)

Then we move onto Mulholland Drive, which I have my doubts about as a film, mainly due to the extreme amounts of hype I have heard about it before viewing, however I feel I need to watch it a couple more times before I appreciate it (and I was really tired that evening). But the one thing which is ever so right in it is the relationship between Naomi Watts and Laura Harrings as two ladies who fall in love due to one of them having amnesia (supposedly.) Before they get together you can sense the sexual tension between the pair, and when they do get it on a thousand eleven year old boys cry out in joy, but aside from that they manage to convince as two women who are sexually attracted to each other in an almost animalistic way despite their innocent personas with Watts even stating “Have you ever done this before?” This was one of the major hints that something in the first half of the film was incredibly odd, (other then Watt’s girl next door style acting) the fact that their sexy time was a bit too sexy for their day time personas.

Now on to the “controversial” film that was Lust, Caution the sexually explicit nature of it getting more press attention then praise. This Ang Lee directed film is a beautifully shot, well crafted tale of obsession and betrayal. It stars Tang Wei as a young student who seduces and has an affair with Tony Leung Chiu Wai, encouraged by her patriotic student friends who feel this general could be the downfall of China. Her aim is to make him vulnerable prey for assassination, but instead she gets caught in a sexually orientated power struggle of a relationship with a man who she finds herself if not falling for but emphasizing with. The sex scenes are not erotic, instead they showcase how Wai goes from dominating and humiliating her to compassion and love which is showcased by the shift from brutality to tenderness. Their claustrophobic and dangerous relationship is utterly convincing and the only way they could have cemented the power struggle (which can not be described in your simple earth words) is with sex scenes of this nature, it draws you into their self destructive union and makes you feel sympathy for both characters moral dilemmas, basically its amazing but the sex scenes make it even better and not in the way you think.

A couple of films that do not have sexual chemistry apart from Made Of Honour:

Nine Songs – dear god the least unsexy sex in the world from the unsexiest couple in the world who have rubbish sex.

The Dark Knight: Bale and Gyllenhal fancy each other as much as a brother and sister (if they are not into incest)

The X Files disaster: Mulder + beard + Scully + talking about work in bed = shit

I think we have all learnt something from this.

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

  • Owain Paciuszko 28th September 2008

    For some reasons when you told me about this list and when I just read it (until I did a double-take prior to this post) I thought you meant ‘Nine Months’, the awful Hugh Grant/Julianne Moore rom-com, and not ‘Nine Songs’… I wondered (silentlY) why you’d chosen ‘Nine Months’, a film so poor it isn’t worth complaint, and now I realise my mistake and have created some sort of evil hybrid movie where Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore get freaky to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club whilst Robin Williams cracks wise.

    It’s a fine list, but some ‘sexy chemistry’ I appreciate and feel deserve mentioning is/are:

    Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis in ‘The Fly’, probably helped that they were actually a t’ing at the t’me.

    Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy in ‘Two Days In Paris’, a brilliant relationship movie and despite the two of them bitching at one another all the time you just want it to work out…

    Nicholas Rowe and Sophie Ward in ‘Young Sherlock Holmes’, a truly heart-breaking children’s film and despite critics poo-pooing the inclusion of a love interest for Holmes I personally think it’s handled brilliant and explains his cold, drug-addled aloofness and bitterness in the ‘real’ adventures.

    Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, the ultimate date-movie, I do like my romances tragic… and it’s so inevitable how this is going to end, but you just keep hoping for the Hollywood ending thanks to the chemistry between these two. Most uncomfortable and creepy sex scene ever… gruuuu…

    Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, I wish they’d stuck to the original ending to continue my theme of doomed romance… but still…

    Anyway, a very good read… if I can figure out how to do it I shall ‘flag’ this bloggery!

  • Sledge 28th September 2008

    Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Monkey Business ?!


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