Romantic, heterosexual, monogamous relationships are often considered as the epitome of human experience. In the 21st century, these traditions are wading in lieu of alternative ideas of love, and one film, In Corpore explores just that through the disruptive female gaze.
Directed by Sarah Jayne, a Melbourne-born filmmaker with Maltese roots, the feature film is an international story of love through heartbreak and euphoria. Following four couples between Melbourne, Malta, New York City and Berlin, it’s a raw take on sex, love and betrayal.
“The idea was sparked after I got married to my husband Ivan Malekin, who’s also a filmmaker and co-director of the film, in 2016. We were both curious about how contemporary relationships are changing,” Jayne told Lovin Malta.
“In Corpore is the product of that curiosity – exploring the grey areas of couples: different lifestyles, gender expectations, the ups and downs of trying to make it work with someone you love.”
Speaking of gender expectations, Jayne isn’t afraid of the label feminism.
“It’s driven through perspectives of cisgender, female women. My films have naturally swayed into feminist themes. There’s nothing wrong with that. The female gaze is still underrepresented,” she said.
Starting off in Melbourne, the first character, an eccentric artist Clara, is forced to come to term with her polyamory after impulsively marrying a much older man in New York City. In Malta, Anna deals with the looming island expectation of having children with her husband Manny, even if she isn’t sure if that’s what she wants. In Berlin, Milana’s sex work threatens to push her partner Rosalie to breaking point.
Besides the dreamy lighting and ad hoc dialogue (the film has no script!), it’s the sex scenes that drive the plot.
“The sex scenes are essential and intentional. There’s more of a focus on the female body, which came naturally. We wanted to catch their expressions. For example, in Anna’s sex scene, she’s very bored, and when she tries to take control, Manny is in shock. In Berlin, there’s dominance and abuse. A lot of personality comes through sex scenes, you can learn a lot about a couple in that way.”
However, Jayne admitted, the choice to include these scenes did make it more difficult in terms of exposure.
“A distribution platform had asked us to cut sex scenes – but we couldn’t it, it would have destroyed the story,” she mused.
“I don’t think the world is ready for sex scenes. Even though there’s so much porn out there. Sex is a big part of relationships.”
In Corpore was finished just before COVID-19 made international headlines, which added another blow to distribution.
“We finished it in January 2019, just before the pandemic hit. We were just en route to New York to pitch it to festivals. Obviously, cinemas were closed so we ended up putting it online,” Jayne explained.
“But I love cinema, watching it with an audience is always an experience.”
Hopefully, the filmmaker said, In Corpore will reach physical screens in Malta and beyond later in the year.
“I’m not sure how it would go down in Malta. Is it going to be too controversial? I just know it’s something that needs to be put out there.”
The film-making duo plan to return home to Australia by Christmas 2021, taking their production company, Nexus Production Group, with them. Before they leave Malta, they plan to shoot another local feature film, as a love letter and a temporary goodbye to Malta, called Imbedo. In the meantime, they’re focused on finishing two films: Cats of Malta and Machination.
You can watch In Corpore, produced by Nexus Production Group, here.
Photos by Go Raw Photography (Malta), Miles Jackson (Malta) and Sonja Madani (Berlin).
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