American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The thing about movie love scenes is that they are acting and they are not acting, both at the same time. Two actors play "characters" who kiss or caress or thrash about. They are only "acting." When the director shouts, "cut!" they disengage and wander off to their trailers to finish the crossword puzzle. That at least is the idea they give in interviews.
But consider. Most movie actors are attractive. They come wrapped in a mystique. Everyone is curious about them, including their co-stars. When the director says, "action!" and they find themselves in bed, there is the presence and warmth of the other person, the press of bosom or thigh, the pressure of a hand, the softness of lips. Does something happen that is not precisely covered by the definition of acting? If it does not, then the actors are not humans and should not be playing them. If we in the audience sometimes feel a stirring of more than artistic interest in some of the people we see on the screen, should actors, whose experience is so much more immediate, be any different? The fact that they are not different provides the subtext for half of the articles in the supermarket tabloids.
Consider all that, and I will tell you a story. I interviewed Robert Mitchum many times. He co-starred with Marilyn Monroe. I never asked him anything as banal as "What was it like to kiss Marilyn Monroe?" but of course there is no woman in the history of the movies who would inspire a greater desire to ask that question. Once, though, as I was Q&A-ing Mitchum at the Virginia Film Festival, somebody in the audience asked him about Marilyn.
"I loved her," he said. "I had known her since she was about 15 or 16 years old. My partner on the line at the Lockheed plant in Long Beach was her first husband. That's when I first met her. And I knew her all the way through. And she was a lovely girl--very, very shy. She had what is now recognized as agoraphobia. She was terrified of going out among people. At that time, they just thought she was being difficult. But she had that psychological, psychic fear of appearing among people. That's why when she appeared in public, she always burlesqued herself. She appeared as you would hope that she would appear. She was a very sweet, loving and loyal--unfortunately, loyal--girl. Loyal to people who used her, and a lot who misused her." So there you have it. Not what it was like to kiss her, but what it was like to know her. In one paragraph, probably as much truth as can be said about Monroe.