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The Counsellor: Cameron Diaz has sex with a car in controversial scene

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Remember the scene in 2011's raucous school-com Bad Teacher wherein Cameron Diaz's eponymous flawed educator washes a car in an erotic manner?

When word first reached us that Cameron Diaz was joining Ridley Scott's The Counsellor, which boasts a screenplay penned by Cormac McCarthy and a cast led by Michael Fassbender, this was not the comparison we expected to be making.

Nevertheless, here it is.

In The Counsellor, Diaz's character Malkina - who's been singled out by many critics as the highlight of a middling film - takes it one step further, and has actual sex with a car.

Cameron Diaz in The Counselor

© 20th Century Fox

Cameron Diaz in The Counselor



So that'll be the scene whose filming was guarded "like a military operation" then.

The sequence in question unfolds like this: Michael Fassbender's shark-eyed, in-over-his-head Counsellor is having a conversation with his new business associate, seedy club owner Reiner (Javier Bardem).

"What is it you'd like to forget?" the Counsellor asks, getting ready to offer some counsel.

"I'd like to forget about Malkina f**king my car," Reiner replies, before going on to recount the unusual turn of events in a haunted voiceover as it plays out on-screen. Clad in her signature animal print, Malkina climbs atop the hood of Reiner's Ferrari, divests herself of her underwear, and ecstatically humps the windscreen while Reiner watches in goggle-eyed disbelief.

That's right - we said the windscreen. The normal laws of physics and the female anatomy do not apply in the world of The Counsellor, because she quite literally gets off on it.

Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz in 'The Counsellor'

© 20th Century Fox



"It was like one of those catfish things. One of those bottom feeders you see going up the side of the aquarium," Reiner says, because McCarthy is nothing if not poetic.

All joking aside, McCarthy is rightfully acclaimed as a masterful, minimalist novelist whose sparse and pitiless prose has been evocatively spun into cinematic gold time and time again, most recently in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men and John Hillcoat's The Road. So while there's clearly more going on in this controversial scene than straightforward objectification, many critics have taken against its demeaning framing and misogynist undertones.

"That moment plays out as a comic anecdote delivered by Reiner, and it's an amusing throwaway moment of sexual insecurities and confusion. It would have landed harder had Diaz (and her stunt double) not been placed in that demeaning position."
- Gabe Toro, Indiewire

"Reiner recounts a long, descriptive story about how Malkina once f**ked his Ferrari. Then the film shows her doing it. 'It was too gynecological to be sexy,' says Reiner. I agree."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


"[Diaz's] is not a very intriguing role. I hope I'm not being hopeful in calling it a relic. I also hope, for the sake of Diaz's dignity, that she at least raised the question as she was filmed lewdly straddling a sports-car windshield whether any woman not on a porn payroll would seek or achieve pleasure in this way."
- Mary Pols, Time

"For all of her man-eating efforts in the film, Diaz is punished with one of the most wince-inducing scenes in years — a spread-eagle masturbation spectacle performed on the hood of Bardem's yellow Ferrari that I'd say has to be seen to be believed. But I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to cough up ten bucks to sit through it."
- Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

UK audiences will have to wait until November 15 to judge the scene for themselves, but given the film's dismal box office performance across the pond, this may be a "no publicity is bad publicity" kind of situation.

Ferrari, for its part, has been diplomatic about its car being used as a masturbatory prop, commenting: "We were indeed aware of the Ferrari California's presence in the film, a star among the stars of this talented cast."

Quite.

The Counsellor is released in the UK on November 15.

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