In the new thriller "Stoker," there's a scene involving Mia Wasikowska playing piano with her uncle, played by Matthew Goode. During this incredibly sophisticated duet he puts his arm around her back to play some keys at a higher octave, and they both start breathing heavily…
That's right, it's a sex scene with NO SEX!
This is not an innovative conceit, though, since we have nine other examples of this titillating tactic on display for your viewing pleasure. It's all of the hanky with none of the panky.
9. 'Titanic' (1997)
Before Jack and Rose had their sweaty tryst in the backseat of that old jalopy, Kate Winslet commissioned Leonardo DiCaprio for a nude modeling session where his pencil is making love to every luscious curve of her body. As for what happened next… "You mean, did we 'do it'? Sorry to disappoint you Mr. Bodine, but Jack was very professional."
8. 'Amelie' (2001)
In Jean-Pierre Jeunet's intoxicating romantic fantasy there's an almost nuclear level of sexual buildup between Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) and her object of stalk… er, affection, Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) as they endlessly flirt without ever having a proper date. One such rendezvous involves Amélie entering a tunnel ride (as if it wasn't symbolic enough) and having Nino breathe on her creepily while caressing her earlobe with his skeleton hands. If that ain't love…
7. 'Ghost' (1990)
This would be a quintessential example of a sexless sex scene if it didn't lead directly into the deed itself. Still, the image of Demi Moore at the pottery wheel rubbing her hands over the spinning, wet clay phallis between her legs while Patrick Swayze manfully gets in on the action is supremely stimulating. The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" became a bedroom standard (and top 20 hit again) in the aftermath of this messy mating ritual.
6. 'Sleeper' (1973)
Decades before Sun-Yi, Woody Allen found immense gratification with another taboo object: THE ORB. In "Sleeper" he plays a Greenwich Village clarinetist who is frozen and wakes up in the far future, and while posing as a robot at an orgy he winds up passing around a metallic ball that seems to possess erotic powers. The resulting overstimulation of the orb provides Allen more satisfaction than Mia Farrow ever could.
5. '40 Days, 40 Nights' (2002)
Remember when Josh Hartnett was, like, the next big thing? Sure you don't, but this comedic vehicle had the "Pearl Harbor" hunk gallantly giving up sex (including self abuse) for the entirety of lent, leaving him frustrated and frenzied when he falls in love with the dizzyingly attractive Shannon Sossamon. They manage to get around his purity pledge through clever use of flower petals, which takes them to new romantic heights.
4. 'The Thomas Crown Affair' (1968)
Set to the sensuous sounds of jazz great Michel Legrand, the infamous chess scene in this caper flick is a tour-de-force of suggestiveness as crafted by director Norman Jewison and his editor Hal Ashby. The players: Steve McQueen's cunning thief and Faye Dunaway's nubile insurance investigator. The strategy: lots of arousing gazes, splayed legs and fondling of Bishops. Who scores? EVERYONE.
3. 'Walk Hard' (2007)
Innuendo, anybody? Judd Apatow co-wrote and produced (along with director Jake Kasdan) this Johnny Cash parody starring John C. Reilly as a perpetually horny/stoned musician named Dewey Cox who has a wild rise and fall and rise-again career. A duet montage built around his budding relationship with June Carter stand-in Darlene Madison (Jenna Fischer) walks the line (get it?) between suggestion and full-on explicit canoodling through clever use of ice cream, sawing wood, etc.
2. 'Lady and the Tramp' (1955)
Yes, the Disney camp of horn dog illustrators have been known to slip in a penis drawing every now and again (eh-hem, "The Little Mermaid"), but this 50's-era romance between two star-crossed pooches has an undeniable undercurrent of canine eroticism. Case in point: the famous spaghetti scene, where Tramp gives her a meatball, not so subtly suggesting the other meat he wants to slip her. The scene transitions into the two of them at some kind of "lovers lane"-type situation… c'mon! You know he left his tramp stamp on her hindquarters.
1. 'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
Perhaps the most famous of all sexless sex scenes involves Meg Ryan teaching Billy Crystal a thing or two about the theatricality of the fairer sex in the sack. Proving a point of how easy it is to fake a BIG O, Ryan sets down her pastrami sandwich and builds to a thunderous, earth-shaking climax… then, without batting an eye, has a dainty bite of potato salad. For those of you wanting to know, yes, the pastrami at Katz's Delicatessen is that good.