What's the story? Taking inspiration from Michel Houellebecq's sexually explicit novel Platform, Code 46 director Michael Winterbottom follows two lovers, one an English glaciologist, the other an American student, over one year of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.

Lisa (Margot Stilley) and Matt (Kieran O'Brien) meet at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gig, and Winterbottom's camera eavesdrops on their bedroom encounters as their sexual appetite grows.

The film is self-financed, the filming is raw and matter-of-fact, shot without a script and with a skeleton crew on hand-held DVD cameras, and the sex is even more raw...and here's the rub, real, condoms and all.

What does Michael Winterbottom have to say for himself?

"I think films that tell a love story tend to rely on a lot of narrative that doesn't have anything to do with being in love. In a way, being in love doesn't have much narrative," he told Time Out. "So we wondered if we could jettison that, so the only standpoint is the man looking back on this affair, and do it as naturally and intimately and honestly as possible.

"It's a fiction and they are actors, but they can try and make you believe that they are making love and in a relationship."

How does he describe the filming experience?

"It was surprisingly like making any other film once we got used to it; no more or less voyeuristic," he revealed to Time Out. "If you're making a movie you're often asking people to be naked in bed together, to cry or be violent; for difficult and revealing things. It's a weird situation, but making films is weird."

Who is Michael Winterbottom, and what films has he made?

Born in Blackburn in 1961, he is a director and screenwriter who studied English at Oxford and then worked in television as a documentary director. Among his films are Under the Sun, Jude, Welcome To Sarajevo, Wonderland, 24 Hour Party People, Code 46.

Who are Kieran O'Brien and Margot Stilley?

O'Brien, 31, from Rochdale, is an experienced actor, appearing in Cracker, Band Of Brothers, Virtual Sexuality and 24 Hour Party People and soon to be seen in Goal!

Stilley, is a willowy, 22-year-old screen novice from South Carolina, who was once "the worst model in the world" (she says of her modelling days in Milan). Moved to England; enrolled on university course in fashion marketing. 9 Songs is her film debut; she had never acted previously.

What have Stilley and O'Brien said about making the film?

"It was not a sexual experience. The entire film was not a sexual experience for me, in terms of emotions or being aroused," Stilley explained in The Observer.

"I wanted to make a film about something I really believe in, which is to show sex in a very positive light, as a very important piece of everyday life and a very important piece of a relationship, whether it's successful or unsuccessful."

O'Brien has said: "I didn't fancy her. I felt protective towards her. On set she was the only woman with a crew of four lads. I know how difficult it was for her. You can't get away from the fact she's a young girl."

What have the reviews said:

Predominantly a thumbs-down.

The Times: "Unlikely to grip or titillate, it provokes, more than anything, those dreaded words: is that it?"

The Independent: "A tedious, bourgeois celebration of the naughty."

The Guardian: "If you like to watch people having 'real' sex or playing 'real' music, this is your film and pretty much no one else's."

Has anyone had anything positive to say?

Superior lads' mag QQ said: "Fearless, bold, beautiful and moving. It also rocks."

The Observer Magazine opined: "A brave attempt to show a couple having sex in the most natural and least exploitative way."

The Daily Telegraph, moral guardian of the stockbroker belt, reckoned: "Actually, it's a frank, incredibly moving essay on place, memory and loss. See it and weep." Come again?

Updated: 08:57 Friday, March 25, 2005