In a flight over Antarctica, Matt (Kieran O'Brien), a member of the British Survey team, recalls his passionate sexual affair with Lisa (Margo Stilley). He says: "When I remember Lisa, I don't think about her clothes, or her work, where she was from, or even what she said. I think of her smell. Her taste. Her skin touching mine." They meet in a large music hall for a rock concert in London and go to bed in his apartment afterwards. Their relationship is not built on sharing intimate details of their lives or commenting on the state of the world. What they have in common is a love of loud and raucous music and sex in all its different permutations.
Does the beat drive their intercourse? Yes, and they attend eight other rock concerts together to rev up their libidos. What do we learn about Lisa ? She is 21-years-old; has had sex with a Bolivian, a Colombian, an Argentinian, and a German; and is returning to America where she lives. Who is in charge here? Lisa gives the orders and Matt obeys. He is eager to please this woman who is "beautiful, egotistical, careless and crazy." When she asks him, "Do you think we'll ever do this without a condom?' he responds definitively, "No." Despite their creativity in coming up with a variety of sexual games to try with each other, Matt is dismayed when after having just made love, he finds Lisa with her vibrator getting what she needs without him.
Michael Winterbottom (Jude, Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland, This World) is a humanistic director who has created a fascinating cross-cut of films about the many variations of human intimacy. The emphasis here is on the playfulness of the erotic connection between Matt and Lisa. He wants to take their relationship to another level of emotional togetherness but she is not interested.
The explicit scenes of sexual intercourse have generated publicity for this English film. Christine Gudorf has written: "Sexual pleasure is good because it enhances our sense of well-being by satisfying some basic human needs: for touch, for excitement, for physical release, for companionship. But sexual pleasure can also be a means to the satisfaction of other human needs and desires, through its ability to bind persons together in intimacy." Through Matt's memories, 9 Songs vividly explores the first but never gets around to the second and more interesting stage of an affair.