A Controversy …
I respectfully disagree with assessments that the film indicates forced sex or rape. (These words have been applied by viewers of the film … not by the author of the book.)
Even though at my first viewing I had not yet read the book, I never felt that Calum went that far. Though he was certainly aroused, it simply wasn’t in his character to be violent unless provoked. I know the fade-to-seashore many times does indicate a consummation … however, in this circumstance I felt that a different dynamic was taking place and that it did not.
The author is characterizing an innocent … a man, who at 24 years of age, is still unaccustomed to any physical relationship with the opposite sex … a young man who has learned none of the usual filters acquired in growing up normally, and who has absolutely no idea that a sibling relationship exists. She is worldly; he is not. She understands what she is doing; he does not. Later, I read the book and felt my impression had been correct. I wish this had been made clearer in the film. (The film makers did say they intentionally left this scene less ambiguous than in the book.) However, I did really like the film and felt Natalie’s portrayal, provoking her innocent brother in order to exact revenge upon her mother, was very true to the spiteful nature of her character.
It would seem enough to leave it as it was in the book: the fluid was on her jeans and not in her … a premature ejaculation from an aroused young man. Yes, he had been forceful with her after a certain point, but I would not call it “forced sex”, if by sex we mean intercourse. In the film she encourages and returns his kisses, not just once, twice or three times … but beyond his limits. In the book also, she plays upon his liking her to bring him very close, enticing physical intimacy until hormones and urges take over, leaving him without conscious intent, and, as Nikki later says, (in the book), … I egged him on … I drew him in … he did nothing wrong … he attempted only what nature intended him for …. Afterward she was never accusatory nor even angry with him, as she would have been had she been forced to completion. In fact, she was angry with herself. She was in control, until she led him to the edge; she knows this. He is abjectly remorseful, tearful, and painfully unhappy that he may have hurt her. I must say that Colin’s performance carried with it every bit of that emotional turmoil.
I believe the author of the book implied an act of impulsive, uncontrolled passion on Calum’s part … it was the film that carried it further. “Rape” implies a violent intent, and there was none here. So, I guess ambiguous pretty well describes it. In any case, this is not a story about incest between siblings.
These two lonely people are slowly forming a bond … the really important part of the story. I particularly like the scene at the end of the film … she places her arms around him and strokes his arms and his hair … the big sister comforting her younger brother.
Ultimately, in the book and in the film, the coming together of these two characters is a positive thing. Unfortunately forced sex is such a loaded phrase that it has distracted many from the truly redemptive story of Nikki’s leaving her anger behind … which is brought to light by her intended sacrifice to save Calum from a prison which would destroy him.