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Emerald Fennell Says Martin Scorsese’s ‘Cape Fear’ Features ‘One of the Sexiest’ Scenes of All-Time

Emerald Fennell is sharing one of her favorite “complicated” sexy onscreen relationships ever, and it’s none other than the dark, obsessive dynamic found in Martin Scorsese’s “Cape Fear.” During Turner Classic Movie’s “Talking Pictures: A Movie Memories Podcast,” hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, “Saltburn” filmmaker Fennell revealed her twisted love for Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis’ onscreen relationship in Scorsese’s 1991 film.

While Fennell noted that the 1962 original starring Robert Mitchum is her preferred iteration of the story (both films were adaptations of 1957 book “The Executioners” by John D. Macdonald), she cited the scene in Scorsese’s feature in which De Niro’s character stalks Lewis at her high school as a favorite.

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“I was obsessed with the remake, because the scene where Robert De Niro comes to the high school to seduce Juliette Lewis, it’s one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen, which is very complicated,” Fennell said.

She added, “My answer is always, ‘You are allowed to be turned on.’ Permission is the main thing that I kind of wish I could kind of say before this film is like, permission to laugh, permission to be horny, permission to scream, permission to hate it. I loved Juliette Lewis. I mean, ‘Natural Born Killers,’ another very troublingly sexy film.”

Fennell said of the inspirations behind her films, “I think that there is so much there that is, you know, really kind of in the DNA perhaps of ‘Promising Young Woman.’ … The thing that is so terrifying is you have to make it completely conceivable that you would fall, too. It’s so brilliant. It is so brilliant, that film.”

“Cape Fear” was nominated for two Oscars, with De Niro and Lewis receiving acting nods in their respective categories. The film is once again getting a remake, this time with a TV series adaptation executive produced by Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. “The Act” creator Nick Antosca will serve as showrunner.

And the connections to “Cape Fear” doesn’t stop there: Fennell couldn’t contain her admiration for “Cape Fear” TV producer Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” a film that “changed [her] life forever.” Fennell previously said that she wants to make an erotically-charged remake within the dino-centric franchise.

Among Fennell’s other favorite films are “Killing of a Sacred Deer” which inspired Barry Keoghan’s “Saltburn” casting and the film’s plotline, with Fennell saying the Yorgos Lanthimos feature is “the funniest film I’ve ever seen.” Classic Mandy Moore ’90s romance drama “A Walk To Remember” was also watched by Fennell “many, many times” while she was in high school.

Yet it’s Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” that makes Fennell sob every time. “The movie that made me cry the most was ‘Melancholia’ by Lars von Trier because I realized …. everything goes. It’s all gonna go,” Fennell said of the morbid realization. “There was something so unbelievably beautiful and tragic about linking that depression and nihilism with an actual end of the world. The way that it was done was the thing that I think I would I aspire to more than anything.”

Fennell continued, “‘Melancholia’ starts with the world ending and you spend the whole film doing what humans do every day. There’s the kind of core of our existence, which is not believing, which is denying. It made me feel so much. There’s a kind of temperature that I really relate to in it. It’s cold. And the coolness of it to me is not inaccessible. It feels honest. I mean, I love him. I mean, I love his work for that reason.”

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