O Amor Natural

Heddy Honigmann

 The Netherlands 1996, 76min

This book inspired Heddy Honigmann to make a documentary. Appearing in the film are men and women who all over 60 – some even over 80. For a reserved North European it is very surprising to hear these old people reading the erotic poems of the great poet loud and clear. I almost blushed, and would absolutely never have asked my grandparents to read lines like “my penis basks in the oscillating devotion of your mouth.” But that is what Heddy Honigmann asks of some apparently casual Brazilian old people. And she doesn’t stop there, also asking them very indiscreet questions about their sex lives.

The result is a very cheerful film that confirms the human lust for life. The director manages to quickly transform casual meetings into very intimate situations. A man aged 85 talks with a twinkle in his eye about the numerous affairs he had with other women during his marriage, though he warns that our ears will hurt if he starts telling about his past. A woman states with satisfaction that she has had her share, and explains how she taught her children grammar with fourletter words. The interviews are intercut with a sequence of scantily dressed women dancing on the street, and female buttocks on the beach. This atmosphere of erotic, enjoyable, easy living is supported by a TV commercial in which a very old lady praises the microwave oven because it gives people more time for sex.

As described here, O Amor Natural might sound like a vulgar film, but that is not the case. Sex is closely related to love, and it is refreshing that the film breaks the taboo about talking to old people about sex. As in her film Metal and Melancholy Heddy Honigmann finds a balance where the people depicted can tell very personal stories without being prostituted by the film. The spectator laugh together with them -and get a good laugh.

Modern Times Review