The title is a sort of pun. Without the final "s", it means "Sex Stories" (which is the title of the English release). With it, it means something like "Stories of the Sexes". And it is both.
The movie revolves around two dinner parties: One for four women and another for four men. Three of the men are partnered with three of the women, and the other woman is the mother of the woman the other man is dating (though, as we'll find out at the end, she's fucking him, too). The conversation at both of the parties concerns the sexual exploits of the guests.
Much of the story revolves around the repressed sexuality of one of the women, Lise (Lou Charmelle). She is somewhat appalled by her friends' sexual freedom and expresses her shock about "open relationships". One of the other women, though, Sandrine (Leeloo) has such a relationship with her husband Bertrand (Rico Simmons), and she tells the story of an encounter they have with another couple (Eliska Cross and Klement), which he tells to his friends, as well. So we hear the story both from his perspective and from hers. It's interesting what he leaves out.
It turns out, however, that Sandrine's friend Jen (Amélie Jolie), who is something of a sexual powerhouse, has somehow managed to sleep with Bertrand (who just will not shut up when he is fucking). She confesses this to Agathe (Nomi), who is hosting the party and is the one woman who is single. All the while, Sandrine is saying how much better it is that she and Bertrand fool around together, have no secrets, and don't need to lie—a theme to which she'll return.
For her part, Lise says that she enjoys being close to her husband, Franck (Cruz), but she doesn't really understand all the fuss about sex. They've more or less decided that sex just isn't her thing. It's a sad, but sweet, story, because it is so clear that Lise and Franck love one another deeply. Somehow sex just doesn't work for them. Lise so wants him to be happy that she has even tried anal with him—though it hurt too much for her to continue. As a result, Franck is having an affair, fucking a woman (Milka Manson) he met at a bar about once a week. With her, he gets to do with her everything he does not get to do with his wife.
Lise's friends eventually realize, though, that she has never had an orgasm. So they decide they need to help Lise become orgasmic and start talking about vibrators. Agathe drags several of them out to show Lise, and the women convince her to try one of them, a rabbit, so she takes it to the bathroom and gives it a go. It does the trick, and so it is that Lise has her first orgasm. Her initial reaction is that she'll have to leave Franck, but the women explain to her that it's not his fault.
After Bertrand tells his friends about fucking Jen—so here again we get two perspectives on the same event—Sandrine confesses that she visted a porn cinema by herself and had sex in the theater with the one other person (Philippe Duroc) who was there. So, in fact, she and Bertrand have both been cheating, despite the fact that their sleeping with other couples together was supposed to do away with the need to have secrets.
In the end, the most sympathetic character is really Lise, and in some ways the movie is really about her. She seems quite puritanical at the beginning, but it's her dissatisfying experiences with sex that have made her that way, and the way she blossoms at the end of the movie is wonderful. When she gets home from the party, she is desperate to have sex with Franck, to share her newfound discovery with him. The sex they have is clearly completely different from anything they have done together before, and when Lise has her first orgasm with Franck, it's clear that their relationship has been transformed. How exactly Franck will part ways with his mistress is not so obvious, but we know that is what he will do. And so, in the end, it feels almost as if Lise is the healthiest of the bunch.
Except for that, there's not much by way of resolution here, let alone a moralizing "lesson". This is a movie about the tensions to which sexuality gives rise: about the confusing relationship between sex, love, pleasure, passion, commitment, and the thrill of what is new or different. It's also about the conflict between our sexual mores and our sexual reality: about the lies we tell to ourselves to justify doing what we want. And while it's tempting to say that it's about the different ways men and women think about sex, it's really about the different ways that different people think about sex. There is as much variety within genders here as there is across them. Sebastian (Sebastian Barrio), though he has a lot of sex, isn't really any more in touch with his sexuality than Lise is, for example, though that fact manifests itself differently.
As for the sex, it is beautifully and sensitively shot and is not separate from the rest of the movie but is just part of the story. And, though it is much less the focus than in most porn, we found it extremely arousing. Probably our favorites scenes were the one in the theater, with Sandrine and her new lover, and the last one, with Lise and Franck, both of which has us dripping.
We'd go so far as to say that Histoires de Sexe(s) is a perfect example of how to make porn that is thought provoking and intellectually engaging, while still being explicit and hot as hell; and that is visually beautiful and a joy to watch, in large part because it is not overly graphic and "in your face".
In short: This is one of the best movies we have ever seen. And not just one of the best pornos, either.