Given what a potential provocation the film could have been, the conceit of Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs is admirable simplicity itself. Matt (Kieran O'Brien) and Lisa (Margo Stilley) have a meet-cute at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert at Brixton Academy in London, after which they retire to his quarters for some exuberant shagging, an event that Matt, not surprisingly, looks back on fondly. Over the course of the film, we'll see eight other concerts interspersed throughout Matt's memories of their relationship, which focus mostly on the copious amounts of sex they had, with the occasional scrap of conversation tossed in. And that's it, music and sex.

What made the film's Cannes premiere and early 2005 release in England such scandal fodder, of course, is not the film's story or structure, but how Winterbottom went about the scenes with Matt and Lisa. That is, he filmed the actors actually engaging in intercourse, no fakery involved, and presents it in a straightforward manner, without the cutaways, montages, effortless orgasms, gymnastic posing and musical backdrops that comprise the average film's sexual content. If the film were more salacious and leering in approach, one could just call it pornography and be done with it. And given how little attempt Winterbottom's script (if one can call these few wisps of dialogue and few sentences of narration a script) makes to cast some meaning around Matt and Lisa's relationship, it would be pretty easy to say that this is just a porn in arthouse trimmings, with the concerts there for hipster cred, in the manner of magazines that mix punk pin-up girl pics with musician interviews as a way of updating the Playboy formula.

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