Hot and Heavy vs Cringe and Crude – The Best and Worst of Sex Scenes in Film

We all know the feeling of watching a film with our family only to be ambushed by a sex scene. We hide behind our hands, avoiding eye contact with everyone until it passes. I’ve had my fair share of wanting to disappear into the abyss whilst watching a movie with my mam. However, sometimes, you’ve got to recognise them for what they are, and sometimes, they’re bad. Other times, well, they know how to get an audience engaged.

Honourable mentions:

Dylan O’Brien in The First Time had me going feral when I saw it. Atonement 100% belongs in the hot and heavy category, with the iconic green dress, and the rising tension between Robbie and Cecilia. However, it’s interrupted in the worst possible way, making it very awkward. Easy A’s fake-sex scene also belongs here.


365 Day was one, painfully long sex montage with uncomfortable facial expressions, and a plot eroticising a terrifying kidnapping situation. 50 Shades of Grey is horrific with its power dynamic issues and abusive portrayal of BDSM. The After series. This fanfiction turned film series also romanticises a toxic relationship and the sex scenes are shocking. The facial expressions are laughable, the moans are forced, and it’s unbelievable that Tessa is having that much fun two seconds after Hardin sticks it in.

Now, the good bit:

Always Be My Maybe has the pair making out and feverishly stripping off their clothes as they move upstairs to the bedroom. The Notebook’s iconic rain-kiss scene precedes the frenzied removal of clothes, before panning to Rachel McAdams in nothing but her pearls. I definitely simp. Lastly, Two Night Stand. What starts off as painfully embarrassing turns into some breath-taking shots – literally. It encourages a healthy dialogue between sexual partners, before turning into a top tier sex montage. The shots of hands gripping the headboard? Hot damn.

It’s safe to say there’s a fair share of awful sex scenes out there, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. But it’s also clear that there are some magnificent scenes that absolutely know how to get the audience feeling a little something-something. You’ve just got to come out from behind your hands.

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Louise Collins

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May 2022
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