Heartburn: The SSL Review

When I am alone in the house, I watch movies that I want to watch but that wouldn't count as deeply treacherous cheating if I watched them alone. That usually means I watch romantic dramas from the 70's and 80's. I'm looking for something with a little humor, but also serious - death/tragedy, long-term tangled extramarital affairs, or deep despair through the mundanity of domestic life are bonuses, and ideally it'll be something I haven't seen before. I like all these types of movies in their own way, but  they don't always hit the right tone I'm longing for. A couple weeks ago, though, one did - and extra super bonus - it also had an SSL Reviewable moment, so I can write about it here.

The movie was Heartburn with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. It was just the right mix of serious and mundane and humor and passing of time that I wanted, and it was so so sweetly satisfying. Can I just say though, that it was kinda the final straw for me with Jack Nicholson? I mean, I'm not saying I don't like him as an actor. He's fine, and great in the right role, but it's like he's Jack Nicholson in every single role. I can't watch him in something without thinking that his character is just Jack Nicholson playing whoever this character is supposed to be...but that did not dull my enjoyment of this movie.

What is an SSL Review?
Anyway, let me get to this SSL Review...as my lovely and loyal readers will know by now, an SSL Review is a special type of review where I specifically critique only discussion/depictions of lady-gasm and/or lady-bation. I look for realism and also what the depiction/discussion reflects from and adds to our cultural understanding of female orgasm and female sexuality. (See all the SSL Movie Reviews HERE, and TV SSL Reviews HERE)

Heartburn Lady-gasm Scene Description
There was just one reviewable scene in this movie. It was simple but unique from similar situations in other movies...in a good way. Let me describe,

The scene starts at a bucket on the floor in the foreground catching drips (uh oh! stress due to home renovation!!!). We hear very gentle outlets of breath - just enough to let you know there's some sex happening out of frame, and then it pans to the bed where we see the couple. Rachel (Streep) and Mark (Nicholson) are having sex. Mark is on top of Rachel, and he's laying flat and close against her. We continue to hear the outlet of breath and some kissing as they tussle and wiggle against each other. There is really no humping motion from Mark. They stay very pressed against each other until Rachel lets out a slightly louder breath followed closely by another. It is subtle, but still seems pretty clear that she came.

We don't really hear any sounds from Mark, but just after her orgasm breaths begin, Mark kinda presses deeper against her and then releases and does it one more time, and when he releases after that, they both kinda stay still for a second and then begin breathing heavily like they just finished coming. At that point Mark kinda rolls off her and and they begin talking about the house.

Heartburn Lady-gasm Scene Breakdown
So the whole thing, from seeing the bucket to when he rolls off, takes 20 seconds, so it's a quick look at the end of their sex act, and it is clearly meant to insinuate that it was an orgasmic sex act. The main question, however, that we ask here in an SSL Review is whether the action happening in that scene seems like action that sensibly could cause a female orgasm. The answer to that is - yeah, sure.

This is actually one of the more unique lady-gasm sex scenes I've seen, and the uniqueness is what makes it better than your average. It was more realistic and gritty than most lady-gasm scenes I've come across because of how gentle the sounds and movements were, how close they were pressed against each other and how hungry and desperate their small movements against each other were. It was not showy in the slightest, but it was also not like two actors pretending to have sex. It felt to me like they were two people close to orgasm pressed against each other desperately vying for the position that will take them over the edge.

It's a dark scene and when I pause it on Hulu it gets even darker, but that's the scene...

I think it's safe to assume these two people were meant to be having intercourse, and it's true that most women do not orgasm during intercourse. However, if a woman were to come during intercourse it very likely wouldn't be because his penis was stimulating inside her vagina in some special way ('cause there's no physical evidence in all of scientific literature that inner vaginal stimulation causes orgasm).

It would most likely be because her outer clitoral glans was being stimulated during the act. That could happen because someone was manually stimulating or vibing the clit area during the ol' in and out (and man would I love to see that in a movie one day) or it could be because the clitoral area was being grinded against something like a partner or some bedding during the intercourse.

Because of how close Sarah and Mark were pressed together and how constant the pressure seemed to be (no up-down humping going on) that could totally have happened. Sarah's clit could be grinding against Marks pelvis while he's in her and pressed on her. I'm giving this situation a little extra bonus points because she didn't look passive during her orgasm. Her body was actively tussling against his body. That sense in this scene that the two were pressing and moving their bodies against each other, desperately vying to get the right position to go over the edge makes it all the more likely that Rachel was making sure her clit got the stimulation against Mark that it needed while he was inside her.

The Vulva Rating
At first glance, this was just missionary intercourse that ended in orgasm, and in a way, that quick understanding of this scene really reinforces the largely incorrect status quo idea that intercourse = ladygasm. However, this is actually a much more realistic, nuanced depiction of female orgasm. The close, constant body pressure, the subtlety and intensity in the sounds and movements, and the sense that Rachel was actively working her body against Marks to get where she wants to be makes it better than probably any lady-gasm-during-intercourse scene I've ever reviewed. I feel as though this kind of depiction doesn't just happen either. I feel like either Streep or someone else involved in the creation of this movie put thought into the realism of this scene. I'd love to interview her and see if she remembers...

I was going to only give this a 3 vulva review because at first I felt it was more ambiguous. It could really seem to the average viewer to just toe the line on the status quo. I mean, most people don't obsess over and dissect these scenes the way I do. But then as I was writing this, my appreciation for it grew, and I think I shouldn't hold societies systemic misconceptions about lady-gasm and people's status quo understanding against this very excellent scene...but I don't want to give it a full 5 vuvla rating either because it's not actively pushing progress in the depiction either. So, I deem this to be a very solid 4 vulva rating.


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