Film Reviews

Review: ‘The Sex Temple’

Hot Docs 2016

Courtesy of Hot Docs

The Sex Temple
(Sweden, 81 min.)
Dir. Johan Palmgren
Programme: Nightvisions (Canadian Premiere)

An amiable Swedish film about amiable people, The Sex Temple is a let’s-put-on-a-show movie that ends in disappointment but doesn’t spark much dramatic heat.

After Christian’s hetero swingers’ club gets destroyed by a fire, he finds hope in the creation of a new one that will open in a gracious old theatre owned by his gay friend Robin. Palmgren’s doc tracks Robin and Christian putting their hearts into the project. Christian’s club will be a venue open to straight and LBGTQ people, while Robin will mount an equally inclusive burlesque show. Construction begins, performers audition, an aging queen says that hockey grabs her more than dressing to kill. “It takes all kinds,” seems to be the film’s message of tolerance.

In a hot sequence, Christian puts on a preview party based on the orgy in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Masked swingers, some of whom explain why anonymous sex is fun and hygienic, dance, suck, and fuck in a stately vintage theatre like Toronto’s Elgin.

Inevitably, hostile emails bombard Robin’s IMac, tabloids get nasty, and neighbours complain to TV cameras. Robin can’t take it, and the doc, which does offer a privileged look at Swedish subcultures, fizzles out.

The Sex Temple screens:
-Sunday, May 8 at Hart House at 9:15 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit for more information.

Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off- and on-line, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter while researching other Jamaica-related projects, including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. He has written for radio, journals and TV, taught screenwriting and been a contributing editor to various magazines.

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