Sex & Celluloid: The Best Threesomes That Never Were

While “(500) Days of Summer” is only the latest warm weather flick to explore the delights and wonders of monogamy, there’s been a relative dearth of love triangles in recent cinema. Are ménages à trois no longer in fashion? It seemed like the ’90s were full of threesomes, coming (so to speak) in all different shapes and genders: Was Gregg Araki’s “Splendor” really that bad that it signaled the end of a decade-long exploration into the not-so-single life? Below, four films that promised us the magical number 3 but never delivered on the company, much less the crowd.

“The Dreamers”
“Did they or didn’t they?” was at the crux of famed Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci’s latest film. It may have catapulted Michael Pitt to indie stardom, but the real draw of the film was the hint of a brother-and-sister love that went beyond the range of decent, even for ’60s-era France. While we never see Pitt in the act with both siblings at the same time, there is a shot of all three nubile bodies lying naked in a tent they construct in their parents’ living room, more than enough evidence that the dirty deed was done. (Although, they are French; so maybe that’s par for the course on a hot night?) Considering the graphic sexual nature of the rest of the film, American audiences were just glad that the incest was only implied, never explicit.
“Being John Malkovich”
Does it count as a threesome if only two bodies are involved? That’s only one of the metaphysical questions that arise from Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s bizarre 1999 masterpiece. The only sex in the film is between Catherine Keener and the titular actor, yet John Cusack and Cameron Diaz’s characters each have a go at their mutual crush while occupying Malkovich’s headspace during copulation; first, as mere spectators, and then later as active participants controlling the Academy Award winner’s body like a puppet.
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Oh, how we all waited with bated breath in 2008 for this Woody Allen film, which was supposed to contain an epic love scene between Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz. Not only did the movie fail to deliver on the sexiest sapphic show imaginable (the most we see is a passionate kiss), but the off-screen couplings of the gorgeous duo with an equally gorgeous Javier Bardem are only described via voice-over, never shown. And from the guy who brought us “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)”? Either Woody is losing his lecherous touch or the studios are really cracking down hard for family values these days.
“Two Girls And A Guy”
Try to remember all the way back to the late ’90s, when Robert Downey Jr. was still in and out of rehab and Heather Graham’s lack of acting ability was not yet known. It was during that time when James Toback’s film gained notoriety and an X rating for some graphic depictions of sexual acts involving, well, two girls and a guy. So much ado was made of the movie’s explicit nature that the studios released two versions. It was the censored, R-rated one (which didn’t include the five-second shot of RDJ simulating analingus on Graham) which most people saw in theaters. Unfortunately, I own the (uncut!) DVD of this film, and not only is it sorely lacking in the sex department, the promised threesome never even occurs! The X-rated version would barely muster an R rating if released this millennium. Plus, it’s sort of a terrible, unscripted mess, saved only by Downey’s ability to be awesome in everything.
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