HE/SHE Review: Jennifer Lyon Bell – Skin.Like.Sun

On Imdb.com, this film is listed as a documentary. And in a way, it is! If mainstream porn is pure fiction, then Skin.Like.Sun is a form of sexual cinema verité. Shot and edited in real time, it glorifies the slowness and sweetness of real sex.

By HIM.

What else does Imdb tell us? American director Jennifer Lyon Bell has an honors B.A. degree from Harvard University in Psychology, and an honors M.A. degree from the University of Amsterdam in Film Studies. The name of her Amsterdam based production company is Blue Artichoke Films, which really tells you all you need to know about her sense of aesthetics. A bit artsy. Unusual, but intruiging.

Released in 2010, Skin.Like.Sun cemented her worldwide reputation for artistically filmed porn, with an emphasis on real emotion. When the famous Dutch TV show Spuiten & Slikken (‘Shoot & Swallow’) decided to do an item on female friendly porn, who did they invite? Well, Jennifer Lyon Bell, of course! (Seriously, watch that bit… it features the ridiculously hot Liandra Dahl, who by the way also happens to star in Bell’s next, eagerly awaited, feature Silver Shoes.)

On this, her third film, Bell collaborated with Belgian lingerie designer, DJ and filmmaker Murielle Scherre. Scherre’s porn debut, J’fais du porno et j’aime ça (“I make porn and I love it”) was banned from Belgian national TV – after being commissioned by the same public broadcasting system – and shot with some of her friends. Two of these also star in Skin.Like.Sun.

Chanel
This real life couple, Floor and Wim, spend an afternoon making love in the empty, sunwashed rooms of some old house in Belgium. They go at it really slowly, almost lazily, with lots of closed-eyed, affactionate foreplay and kissing. My GF and me watch it late one Saturday night, in a lake house we spend a weekend in. Unfortunately, we’re off to a bad start.

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‘What on earth is she wearing?’ my GF asks.
Floor is wearing a homemade Chanel headband with a feather. It annoys the crap out of my GF.

I am puzzled. The girl looks quite nice. Very indie, just like her guy, who rocks a perfectly hipster vibe with his beard and piercings and all. I kind of dig it. Her lingerie is typical La Fille d’O, Murielle Scherre’s brand: see-through skin colored tulle with tie-side panties. Quite distinctive!

But there’s no accounting for personal taste I guess, so we just fast forward until the feathered headband comes off… at which time, the music has changed from a mellow industrial droning into fuzzily strumming guitars. That’s more like it!

Slow porn
We settle into the sloooow pace of the film, and eventually the atmosphere engulfs us. It’s really all about sunlight, warmth, texture. The bare wooden floor. Closeups of skin and hair. Touching and kissing and very, very slow undressing. Sometimes we hear the ambient sounds from the couple, making love on the wooden floor in the empty room, and sometimes it’s just music and soundscapes by Murielle Scherre, which I personally like a lot.

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It would be prosaic to break the scene down into bare ‘sex acts’ (he fondles her closely cropped pussy, later they fuck in on the rough floorboards without ever losing eye contact, no oral), so let me just say that after a while, my GF and I join in and enjoy ourselves immensely…

Let’s do it again!
Then a weird thing happens. Midway through the film, after he comes, they get dressed again – including the dreaded headband – then move into another room… and start all over again. Kiss, undress. Then they playfully chase eachother to the bathroom. There, Floor and Wim continue their slow sex, with Floor leaning against the wall, and Wim fucking her – from the front! Now there’s something I’ve tried, and failed miserably at! This guy is my hero.

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Again, no oral of any kind, but more intense, eye-gazing intercourse. First, she comes, straddling him on the toilet, then he takes her from behind until he comes for the second time. But more glorious than their orgasms is the afterglow. We stay with them for almost five more minutes, cuddling, wiping, cleaning up, having a laugh and just being completely in the moment. I don’t think I ever saw this much attention to afterplay in a porn before, and it rocks!

Conclusion
Skin.Like.Sun (or in French: Des Jours Plus Belles Que La Nuit) is definitely a unique viewing experience, giving a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘slow porn’. It’s all about atmosphere – not sexual acrobatics, not wall-to-wall orgasms, but the intensity of being in that lovey bubble together. We had to shift a few gears to get there, but that’s a good thing in itself!

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Afterglow…

Technically, it’s not perfect. In the bathroom scene, one camera is much darker and noticably bluer than the other one, suggesting something may have gone wrong with the white balance. Also, the audio sounds like it was recorded with just an on-board camera mic. But those are minor concerns.

Fem Porn Award
This is a valuable film that shows how beautiful porn can be, and was therefore awarded ‘Best Direction’ at the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards. In the words of the jury:

“Des Jours Plus Belles Que La Nuit is an homage to real, explicit love shot in real-time. Starring a young Belgian couple, the film tries to capture what sex feels like, rather than looks like. Shot with the female character’s perspective in mind, and choosing to leave in the kissing, banter, and foreplay alongside the more traditional hot elements, Des Jours Plus Belles Que La Nuit is a decidedly unusual — and touching — approach to cinematic sex.”

HE: 7,5 / 10
SHE: 7 / 10

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