Greg and Zanna laugh at penises.
Importance of size: 0
Importance of performance: 5
If there's one thing Jackie van Beek must elicit from people, it's trust. The funding partners who signed on to greenlight a film made entirely in gibberish must have really trusted her vision to part with large sums of money not knowing what a word of the dialogue would be. And the actors - Jemaine Clement, Damon Herriman, Chris Parker, Morgana O'Reilly and many more - must have really trusted that she wouldn't make them look like complete nincompoops when they were being filmed, fully nude, climbing a snowy mountain and talking like the Swedish Chef. Their trust was not misplaced because Nude Tuesday is the silliest bit of nonsense I've seen in a long time and I enjoyed it immensely.
It's a simple story: a couple, Laura (van Beek) and Bruno (Herriman), are gifted a stay by Bruno's mother at a sexual awakening retreat, to help them reignite the passion in their sexless marriage. Clement plays the retreat leader, Bjorg: a role oddly reminiscent of his character in Moana - the sneaky crab - a bit narcissistic and likely to steal your jewels.
The film's unique concept is that it was shot in gibberish with subtitles added by an entirely different writer, Julia Davis, after the film was picture-locked. It's an unusual collaborative writing process that I have to imagine is somewhat influenced, even subconsciously, by TikTok - a platform in which users take other people's video or audio and layer in their own content to create something entirely new. The newness of what is created by adding subtitles to this film is debatable, because the story is quite clear without them, but they are very funny and I wonder whether the film will be as good with new subtitles, of which they hope there will be many in different territories. I'd love to be in the room where the subtitles are being devised. I'm thoroughly intrigued to see what new storylines other writers might be able to find in this film that Davis didn't. It also lends itself to fan interaction - I see a whole new life for this film playing out online, with the public creating their own versions.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea - Scandinavians, for example, might find it mildly offensive - but if you find words like hoopengluppen and krapsooflakken funny and giggle at the sight of a dangly phallus, then you'll probably be tickled by this ludicrousness as much as we were.
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Penises have become so prominent on our screens in recent times it seems you can hardly turn your face without a wang slapping you across it. The recent second season of hit television series Euphoria was so chock full of phalli, I had to stop pausing to look at them, because otherwise I would never have finished. But even by today's dick-rich standards the penis quotient in Nude Tuesday is eye-catching.
It's not just penises of course - there are also a considerable number of bushes and boobs - it's just that penises have been so taboo for so long and men are so obsessed with their relative sizes, it's hard not to focus on them. I guess if you're a mature and fully sane person you get past it fairly quickly. The movie is not entirely nude, nor even mostly nude, but when the nudity comes, it does not let up. It's not a movie about nudity, although it is to some extent a movie about the power and ridiculousness of our bodies and our problems and obsessions arising as a result of them.
The story is relatively simple. Married couple Laura and Bruno are having a number of problems at work and at home, including Laura's graphically described and out of control thrush, when they are gifted a trip to a sex retreat led by Jemaine Clement's charismatic sex guru. Initially two fish out of water, they soon find ways to fit in: Bruno does some cathartic yelling in a men's group and Laura gives Clement's Bjorg a handjob down his waders as he takes a call about the delivery status of his new russet weave poncho.
Nude sex guru is the role Clement was born to play. His face, voice and body working in sexual concert is so naturally funny, it's difficult to imagine him ever having non-comic intercourse. It's also an invasion of his privacy.
The movie was subtitled by Julia Davis, with additional material from others including Jesse Griffin, Tom Sainsbury, Duncan Sarkies and Renee Lyons. The subtitles are often funny, but the movie would still be funny and basically comprehensible even with no subtitles. Jackie van Beek and Damon Herriman as Laura and Bruno have many great and hilarious scenes of marital discomfort and stupidity that are so perfectly physically expressed as to be beyond words.
To some extent it's a movie about the unimportance of words, of seeking and being able to understand each other on some deeper level. To some extent it's much shallower than that. A movie doesn't have to be big to be impressive.
Nude Tuesday is in cinemas from Thursday.