Tag Archives: erotic thriller

Love Is a Battlefield

Deep Water

by George Wolf

Adrian Lyne hasn’t directed a movie in twenty years. It’s been twice that long since the 1957 source novel by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley) has been adapted for the big screen.

They’re both back with a new vision for Deep Water, a sometimes frustrating erotic thriller that can never fully capitalize on all of its possibilities to be either erotic or thrilling.

Vic and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas) are living a life of luxury in New Orleans with their young daughter Trixie (the incredibly cute Grace Jenkins). Vic developed a computer chip used for drone warfare, so his days of early retirement are mainly filled with watching Melinda openly flaunt her affairs at parties.

When one of Melinda’s past lovers turns up dead, Vic lets her latest boy toy (Brendan Miller) know that he’s the murderer. But Vic is only trying to scare the kid away, right? Neighbor Don (Tracy Letts with another standout supporting turn) is suspicious early on, and when another of Melinda’s lovers (Euphoria‘s Jacob Elordi) drowns at a pool party, plenty of others are looking at Vic as the prime suspect.

Screenwriters Zach Helm and Sam Levinson provide Lyne with undercurrents of subtext that are never fully explored. We assume Vic doesn’t want to subject Trixie or his finances to a messy divorce, but the deeper we dig, it’s clear this marital arrangement is feeding some need for both parties and fostering a concerning worldview for their child. Lyne showcases the aimless privilege of their daily lives to hint at a lesson on the rot of wealth, then pivots, often to Vic’s creepy but uneventful hobby of raising snails.

And though Lyne has made his name on the steamy sexual politics of 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful, there’s more smoke here than fire. And water, water everywhere.

You won’t notice grand chemistry between Affleck and de Armas, which is a credit to both. This is a marriage of psychological warfare, and it is Vic and Melinda’s contrasting plans of attack that keep us invested, especially in the early going. De Armas embodies the cruelly uninhibited as well as Affleck brings the condescending and calculated, which is a major reason the major twist to Highsmith’s original ending works as well as it does.

For these two, it feels right.

But only for a moment, because strangely, Lyne doesn’t let it linger. Instead, he quickly cuts from the credits to a performance from the adorable Jenkins singing along to a cheery pop ditty from the 1970s.

If it’s an attempt at chilling humor, it falls hard, becoming another anchor weighing down Deep Water just when it starts cruising.

Got Wood?

Fifty Shades of Grey

by Christie Robb

Let’s face it, Fifty Shades of Grey is probably not going to be nominated for an Oscar. It’s not the movie you watch for its subtle complexities of character development. It’s a chance to watch two hotties take a naughty little ride to bone town and maybe get some inspiration along the way.

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele delivers, giving the role a bubbly charm that provides the occasional (and much needed) comic relief. However, her costar Jamie Dornan leaves something to be desired. As aloof billionaire Christian Grey, Dornan claims people find him heartless. I found him dull. I’ve seen marital aids with more personality.

And the film desperately needs the chemistry between the two. The plot—nerdy English major battling for the heart of a bachelor CEO while being initiated into the ways of light S&M—is as thin as Christian’s silk tie. This is a story about yearning and longing (and spanking). You gotta have passion.

And what’s with the R rating? There’re surprisingly few sex scenes and a lot of naked Dakota Johnson, but no sign of Dornan’s Johnson. When adapting erotic fiction popular with the ladies, you’d think we’d get to see something more titillating than a butt and a pair of low-slung jeans. Maybe I’m spoiled by premium cable.