Watching Normal People is an exercise in understanding the different facets of intimacy. There is no escaping the intensity of it, with the camera often zooming in on the actors until it is difficult to separate the viewer and the characters. The sex (of which there is a lot) is passionate, raw and imperfect, and wildly different from the cinematic intercourse that we are used to. There is a lot of fumbling and giggles, eagerness, and clarity of consent. “When I hear the phrase ‘sex scene,’ I think about a dialogue scene,” Rooney says in an interview, and that translates onscreen (It helps that Rooney co-wrote the screenplay with Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe). With the help of intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien, each scene is a conversation, pregnant with meaning, signalling subtle shifts in the dynamics of the relationship.
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