Sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. There couldn't be a more accurate summary of Michael Winterbottom's bold new film, in which Winterbottom regular Kieran O'Brien and newcomer Margo Stilley play a couple with a fondness for all three. A brief encounter between a British glaciologist and a young American abroad, mulled over during an Antarctic exploration, is recalled in the most honest way possible. Let's face it-a man alone in the Antarctic is not going to be reminiscing about candlelit dinners. The result is in the most sexually explicit English-language film ever made outside the porn industry. Starting out without a script-or even a plot-the actors improvised their way through their unsimulated relationship, with Winterbottom himself often behind the handheld DV camera. In between bouts of safe sex, the lovers head to Brixton Academy for nine songs provided by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Dandy Warhols, Elbow, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, the Von Bondies, and band-of-the-moment Franz Ferdinand, and to the Hackney Empire for Michael Nyman's sixtieth birthday concert. Winterbottom, who with movies like 24 Hour Party People and Welcome to Sarajevo seemingly reinvents himself with each film (his next is Laurence Sterne's unfilmable eighteenth-century novel Tristram Shandy), has made a raw, uncompromising film that rips the covers off the Hollywood sex scene, searching for a relationship's truth in its physical expression. For our glaciologist, Antarctica is like "two people in a bed-claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the same place."
Michael Winterbottom has been an award-winning director and producer for over a decade. His films include Butterfly Kiss (1994) and Go Now (1995) for which he earned his second Prix Europa. Winterbottom's feature Jude, starring Kate Winslet, premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes and won The Michael Powell award for Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and The Golden Hitchcock Award at Dinard. For two years straight his critically acclaimed film, In This World, was bestowed with accolades; in 2002, the film was the winner of the Golden Bear, the Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Peace Prize at the Berlin Film Festival. The following year, it was nominated for Best British Film and British Director at the 24th Film Critics Circle Awards, and for two BAFTAS-The Alexander Korda Award for the outstanding British film of the year and for Best Film Not in the English Language.