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Five foreign films about sexual awakening you need to see

Gang bangs, smutty sex hotlines and practicing on vegetables are the kinds of sexperiments you should only experience on film

When it comes to teen sex in film, Hollywood too often remembers to bring the condom. Whipped cream is about as dangerous as things get, and the offensively fake orgasms from Fifty Shades of Grey can still be heard reverberating through sex ed classrooms the world over. Foreign films about budding sexuality can be risqué while still delivering on narrative.

The two, believe it or not, are perfect bedfellows. So if America is like your dad who sits you down for an awkward birds and the bees talk, countries like Brazil and Sweden will kindly swoop in to give you concrete answers in the form of cinematic sexual awakenings and reversal of gender norms. As French filmmaker Eva Husson’s libido-cranking Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) heads to UK cinemas next week, we pull the pants down on the foreign films that refuse to skirt the issue.

Turn Me On, Dammit! (2011)

Unapologetic about teen girls’ burning sexual desires, Norwegian film Turn Me On, Dammit! is a refreshing tell-it-like-it-is story about a sexually starving 15-year-old named Alma. Behind her mum’s back, she rings up sex hotlines to get off. It staves her appetite for a while, but she longs for a physical connection. Alma lusts after Arthur, a cripplingly shy boy who is the perfect cocktail of anxious and virile. However, when the pair do come together, it’s not exactly how she’d intended. She unwittingly tells her friends of the meet and the story gets out, turning her into a shunned vixen. This is maybe the funniest movie about sex after The Little Death.

Boys (2014)

Long story short – two boys join a track team and discover that they love to run just as much as the next friend of Dorothy (i.e. not very much). Their slavish dedication to the track team ends up being a welcome excuse to wear tight-fitting shorts and, ahem, ‘exercise’ on the regular. Luckily, there’s a pond nearby the track where they can cool off after an intense training session. This film is fairly innocent – its languid romance trumps any intervention of actual sex – but lawd does it fulfill every unticked box of a masc4masc love story.

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) (2016)

As the title suggests, horny French teen Alex hosts a sex party while his mum is away on a work trip. Because the participants are all of the Snapchat generation, they decide to film and upload everything to a password-protected site so they can rewatch and distribute at their leisure. They call themselves the “Bang Gang” (pronounced “Bong Gong” because it’s France). Bang Gang is like Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers sluttier, digital native sister. There is a ‘helicopter’ scene that would put the shock-horror of the surprise penis in the latest Game of Thrones episode to shame. Director Eva Husson manages to make group sex, and all its cautionary absolutes, into a total thrill ride.


The Way He Looks (2014)

If Mr. Magoo had a secret history of gay sex, this film would likely be it. The Way He Looks is an innocent portrait of twink love made by Brazilian director Daniel Ribeiro. Blind teenager Leonardo has every strike against him. He just wants to be independent but his parents like to keep him on a tight leash, meeting his plans to study abroad with only the mildest of support. Even his best friend Giovana is hurt by this decision. It’s only when Gabriel, a new student, shows up and quickly wedges his way in between Leo and his friend Giovana that Leo has an awakening. Leonardo’s inability to see from birth is probably a metaphor for love being blind or whatever, but this tender story of two young gays is criminally endearing.

Wetlands (2014)

Last but not least, German film Wetlands will make even the most seasoned dirty girl feel slightly uncomfortable. Oddball ingénue Helen Memel has no qualms about hygiene – the grimier the toilet, the better. So it’s kind of obvious when the 18-year-old is hospitalised for an anal fissure (I told you it wouldn’t be pretty). While in the care of gorgeous male nurse Robin, Helen flashes her come to bed eyes in between narrating sexual takeaways from her life. They involve daring confrontations with vegetables, jizz-covered pizzas and self-dirtying. It’s not for the faint of heart. The plot keywords on IMDb include: pink panties, bleeding and divorced parents, if that offers you any final warning.


Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) is out in UK cinemas June 2