The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1987)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Marriage Drama, Political Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 5, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 172 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Rebecca Flint Marx

This lush, haunting film features some of the most blunt and stirring eroticism this side of Last Tango in Paris. Almost universally lauded upon its release, The Unbearable Lightness of Being was called "the most openly sexual American film in ages" by one publication. Its sexual content was undeniable, but more remarkable than the numerous and acrobatic couplings was the complexity in director Philip Kaufman's treatment of adult sexuality. More sensual than sexual, Lightness went where few films dared, making sex less a voyeuristic pastime than a catalyst for commentary on the bittersweet nature of love and existence. Lightness's meditative, philosophical approach toward sex, borrowed from the Milan Kundera novel on which it was based, differed from that of most Hollywood films, which often feature sex as just a cartoonish expression of carnal delight. As a result, Lightness is one of the few films centered on adult sexuality that is in no way a date movie. It is also one of Kaufman's most celebrated films, laying the foundation for his subsequent journey into the realm of sexuality in Henry & June.