I have a dream, and it's not just an erotic one

FILM STUDIES

Take Denzel Washington, for instance. And there are many who would - not least Angelina Jolie in America's grisly new hit she shares with him, The Bone Collector. Denzel is not only one of the best American actors. He's one of the sexiest. Then I cast my mind back to The Pelican Brief where he was the reporter who came to the aid of Julia Roberts and her righteous paranoia - but only got a peck on the cheek at the end. In Courage Under Fire, he starred with Meg Ryan - but her character was dead before his came into the story. That's no way for a guy to get a girl.

Never mind, I thought, in The Bone Collector he's with Angelina Jolie, owner of the most effulgent mouth since Jagger's. They play fellow-cops on the trail of a clever murderer. Something has to happen, doesn't it?

There is something. At one moment Denzel is sleeping, and Angelina runs her forefinger up and down his. Forefinger. It's a sweet, romantic moment, of the sort that hardly exists in movies any more. That's when I knew I was having a good old-fashioned time at The Bone Collector, despite its defaced corpses.

You see, Denzel plays a quadriplegic, a cop who can only move his head, his mind and that forefinger, taped to the control panel of his computer system so he can press the mouse. Angelina is a spunky uniformed cop who finds a murdered body and has an instinct for forensics that is brought to Denzel's attention. He is not just bedbound, but a cop emeritus and a genius, the author of several books on forensics. As the story begins he has just made a deal with his doctor to terminate his life. He can't stand paralysis; and he dreads the next, vegetative state. Then he's lifted out of his gloom by getting to work with her on this new case - one in which the scholarly serial killer might have been designed for Denzel.

So, while he stays in his apartment, she goes out on the job, keeping in radio communication with him, learning how to find the crucial evidence, penetrating some of the most gruesome subterranean settings known to cinema, and drawing the line only at sawing off one victim's hands so they can study the antique handcuffs. Every now and then, she comes back to the apartment, and he looks at her, and she looks at him.

Now, if you've been awake the last few years you know how Denzel looks at people. And I have to tell you that Angelina Jolie, with eyes that never short-change her mouth, is going to be around for some time.

There's a moment in The Bone Collector when you realise that this isn't just another version of Seven (cops against cruel brainbox). It's a love story. Let me confess that I had this column in mind before I went to see The Bone Collector. For I had assumed in advance that Hollywood was not going to let Denzel and Angelina have sex on the screen. Thus, something profound in the logic of these two beautiful people would be left begging - just as it was at the end of The Pelican Brief.

Thirty-two years ago, we were obliged to describe the excruciating politeness of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (in which Katharine Hepburn's real-life niece was engaged to Sidney Poitier) as an advance in race relations. Since then, we have had the commercial disaster of Love Field (in which Michelle Pfeiffer - as a dumb blonde - was supposed to fall in love with Dennis Haysbert), and Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, which does eventually get to the bodies, but blurs black and white in the sheen of super-stardom.

I can think of few other examples, despite the natural increase of inter- marriage in American and Hollywood society. There are still many parts of America where a serious sex scene between Denzel and Angelina would kill a movie's box-office prospects. Yet, somehow, the press commentary on the movie world alleges that Washington is unusually "intense" or "difficult", as if no obvious reason for discontent lay at hand. White victims of terrible physical damage have had sex in movies - I'm thinking of Born on the 4th of July and Coming Home, in which the wheelchair vet was played by Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie's father. But Denzel never lays a finger on Angelina.

It's not so much that I have a burning need to see such scenes, or unbridled screen love affairs between, say, Ving Rhames and Meryl Streep. More importantly, I would like to have the scene that follows sex in which black and white talk to each other and air out the issues linked to being together and of different colour. Our culture needs films in which the taboo is talked about, teased and joked away. But the nearest film has come is the romantic failure in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, which settles for the idea that black and white being together is hard. Nearly as hard as marriage, maybe.

On the other hand, a part of me reckons that the movies don't do sex very well. The camera is so hooked on appearance; and sexual feeling is so inward and sensual. That's why I'll treasure the way Denzel and Angelina look at each other. When her eyes widen, it's one of the sexiest scenes of the century.

`The Bone Collector' will open in Britain next year

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor