Clement Virgo - Lie with Me
At last, a really sexy and interesting erotic film, Lie With Me, a Canadian feature which debuted at last Fall's Toronto International Film Festival. Alas, this same picture went straight-to-DVD recently, as its distributor, Thinkfilm, thought twice about a theatrical release, probably influenced by the disastrous box office of Michael Winterbottom's X-rated Nine Songs. But Nine Songs, despite its explicit couplings, was cold and anti-erotic, a deserved audience turn-off. Lie With Me is a soft-X but hot, hot, hot, this on-my-body-again and off-my-body-again tryst of two young Torontonians, played with gusto and abandon by attractive TV actors, Lauren Lee Smith (The L Word) and Eric Balfour (6 Feet Under, 24).
At Toronto, I interviewed the multicultural-and-married filmmakers of Lie With Me: the Jamaica-born director, Clement Virgo (Rude, The Planet of Junior Brown), and his Jewish-screenwriter wife, Tamara Faith Berger. The casting? "We found Eric first," said Virgo. "I'd worked on a TV show with Lauren, and didn't see her in this part. But she sent me a tape in which she had a different color hair, and she moved differently. I was amazed. When they got together, the chemistry was there. No chemistry, no film."
The script comes from Berger's same-named 200l novel concentrating on the daring amorous explorations of Leila, a sex-obsessed young woman. "I'd been writing for porn publications before, but this book was more literary, artistic. Some of the first books I'd read were by the Surrealists, Bataille and Apollinaire, which mixed in violence and really hardcore scenes. And I love Kathy Acker, and her book, Kathy Goes to Haiti. I found in her writing this yearning for sex and love at the same time."
How did Virgo direct the sex-and-love scenes? "The actors trusted me implicitly. We never had the conversation, 'You're going to have sex.' But it couldn't be fake touching. It had to be truthful. If I believed what they were doing, I'd keep shooting. If I didn't, I'd stop shooting. But it was too embarrassing to say, 'Give a blow job.' "
(Boston Phoenix March, 2006)