Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story (2003)
It's not often that porn can have me on the edge of tears and smiling at the same time. In fact, I'm to the point that most porn movies have me rolling my eyes in disdain, even if they are making my lower half squirm uncontrollably.
But Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story is different. Oh boy, is it different. This is the porn movie some people wait their entire lifetimes to see. This is a porn movie that goes where almost no other adult film has bothered to go before. This is a porn movie so exquisite, so engaging, so intimate and emotional, it doesn't really deserve to be called porn.
Marie and Jack, by Comstock Films, is really a documentary. It's a movie featuring a real life couple, talking about their real sex life, and then having real sex. And by God, it's glorious. I've yet to see another hardcore film that depicts the true playfulness, pleasure and emotion of good sex between a loving couple, and all I can say is: "Why not?" If more porn were like this, there'd be a lot of happy female porn viewers in the world.
Marie and Jack are married, and they're both porn stars. They make their living by having sex on camera, so they're no strangers to the probing eye of the lens. This makes them good fodder for such a film as this, because it means they're not self conscious about the presence of the camera in their bedroom, and it helps to keep things real. We first meet them during an interview, where they discuss how they met, and what they find attractive in their partner. Then they talk about what it's like to work in the porn industry while married, which is a fascinating enough topic in itself.
But the film really fires when we begin to see them having sex. They kiss, passionately. They smile and undress each other. There's real tenderness and intimate knowledge in every unchoreographed move they make. You know that every kiss and caress exists to give pleasure to the other person, rather than to titillate the viewer (although that happens quite naturally anyway). Nothing is done for the camera. Marie doesn't moan empty lines from a script. They're both relatively quiet as they make love, and there's no dodgy electronic music to disguise their breathing. There's occasional close-ups of the mechanics of sex, but it's not obsessive; indeed, there's far more shots of the couple kissing each other. Their lovemaking follows a natural progression, and they take only as long as they need to.
The film switches back to the interview at relevant moments, and so we hear how Marie has a very particular method of reaching orgasm, and how Jack knows just which buttons to push to make Marie come. It's somehow reassuring to see how a porn star - a woman who must have had sex every which way - has her own particular and very specific way of attaining climax. We watch Marie's very real orgasm, and, perhaps more engagingly, hear Jack describe his reactions to it.
My only complaint with this film is about how it deals with Jack's orgasm. We almost slip back into familiar porn movie territory as Jack works toward his goal. The focus remains largely on Marie's face, in between shots that are more gynecological in detail. Perhaps most frustrating of all, Jack pulls out for a last minute cumshot on Marie's belly, and the camera seems to miss the full force of his facial expressions. The money shot seemed entirely unnecessary, as it was pretty much given that Jack's orgasm was going to be real. The shot yanked me back into the full awareness that I was watching a porno, and I so wished that it wasn't so. Sure, this reaction is due to my escalating loathing of the money shot, and others may find it arousing, but I had been lulled into forgetting the realities of what I was seeing.
Small cumshot quibbles aside, I can't really fault this film. Sure, you can see it's an independent movie, and it's only 30 minutes long, but who cares about big-budget crystal clear cookie-cutter porn when you can watch such vibrant, intelligent and downright erotic stuff? I can't recommend it enough.
Extras: The DVD has a special feature where you can watch the love scene in its entirety, from two different camera angles. You can either switch back and forth, or watch one scene with the alternate view in the corner.
This is a great feature because it means you can watch the scene just as pure porn, and it's pretty damned hot. With two angles, you can also watch all the extreme genital detail, while still seeing the expressions on their faces. It's the best of both worlds.
The other cool thing about it is you get a peek into how the film was made, and it helps to better understand why some shots are the way they are. There's a few blurry bits, and parts where Marie and Jack move and the camera struggles to keep up. You come to realize just how tricky filming real-life sex must be, and with it comes a further understanding of just how fake standard porn films are. For me, this aspect of the DVD just made me admire the filmmakers even more.
A note about writing this review: I took a look at what others had written about Marie and Jack. The reviews were overwhelmingly glowing. What was fascinating, however, was how the male professional porn watchers seemed to view it. A lot of them enjoyed it against their will, because it broke so many porn rules. They thought it was too short. They mused about whether Marie's tits were hotter before or after her boob job. They wanted more position changes. The sex was only "vanilla sex". They were disappointed that the cumshot wasn't more detailed and that the camera lingered too long on Jack's face. And there was one guy who wasn't sure if Marie had achieved orgasm because she seemed too "quiet" (which made me wonder if this guy had ever seen a real female orgasm in his life).
For me, this illustrated how far the porn industry is mired in
it's own tired traditions, and how much of a leap Tony Comstock
has made in creating this film. It also shows that it will still
be some time before we see more porn that steps outside the box
as this excellent movie has done.
This review also appears at For The Girls!
Reviewed June 2004