Written, Music & Directed By: Mike Figgis
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Editor: John Smith
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey Jr., Natassja Kinski, Ming-Na Wen, Kyle Maclachlan, Amanda Donohoe, Marcus T. Paulk, Vincent Ward, John Calley, Glenn Plummer, Thomas Haden Church, John Ratzenberger, Annabelle Gurwitch, Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows, Ione Skye, Donovan Leitch, Xander Berkeley
Los Angeles advertisement director Max visits his friend, artist Charlie, who was diagnosed with A.I.D.S. in New York City. There he meets Karen, they are attracted to each other and after they meet later that day at the concert, they have a passionate night. Then he returns home to Los Angeles to his family, and wife Mimi. A year later, Max returns to New York City again to visit Charlie, who is now dying, and there he meets Karen again, who is married to Charlie’s brother Vernon.
This film was written by popular screenwriter Joe Eszterhas at a time when his screenplays were selling for millions of dollars. This was made more when he went into seclusion and the release was more low-key. So that it it was supposed to be more adult and controversial and might make a mark during Oscar season. Glad that it didn’t end up as sensational as the material could have been or hints at. Though it seems to be as anti-commercial as the main character wants to end up being.
Joe Eszterhas wrote the original script, which was a series of loosely-connected sex scenes. When Mike Figgis took over the project, and re-wrote most of the script, Ezsterhas decided to take his name off the film.
Though promoted as a normal studio film about a one night stand. The film is subversive in material and indirection. As the film eventually delves into relationships, intimacy physical and emotional. It even becomes a bit romantic though in a more cynical way. As this film goes for the modern realism at the time with a studio gloss.
It starts off mainstream then becomes experimental it tries to be jazzy and represents a film that might have come out during the 1970’s. As it feels improvised and goes off into places your not sure where you’re going to end up. It has a great cast while putting in a joke of the woman he sleeps with being an actual rocket scientist.
Like his character Wesley Snipes looks uncomfortable. As he is torn into something he is. It used to and seems a bit thrown off by what he presented with. As his character has to face the consequences of selling out to becoming a business advertiser and his old creative partner dying and feeling lost as he misses the freedom of his more artistic days. Which also leads to the title of the film where as he has a happy yet comfortable marriage where sex is bountiful but more controlled and planned. Where as when he sleeps with this other woman it is surprising, free and more passionate, representing freedom.
The film does feel pretentious and smug. The characters not interesting and easily unlikeable. They’re not exactly characters you can identify with, it uses techniques more accustomed to cerebral drama as long takes. Improv but only with a nice budget so it doesn’t look bargain basement.
This is what you usually get when it comes to director Mike Figgis films. They are always never what you would expect normal stories delivered in a non-natural way. At least one you are not used to, they hit all the Points but feel deeper and more truthful emotionally. Usually by having more private moments and still highlighting the mundane.
The sex scenes are rather not sexy they are graphic but not passionate at all. If anything more artfully shot and one done more with humor.
It becomes an unconventional love story at heart played around something morally wrong. Cheating then falling in love. Betraying the one you promised yourself to, then discovering the love of your life with the first person you cheat with, guess it is worth it.
Robert Downey Jr. is mesmerizing in a small role whose character haunts the film and all actions seem to revolve around.
Ming-Na Wen makes her Mark as Snipes wife oblivious to all his actions. Though the film never offers a reveal scene for her or even a scene for her confront anyone. The camera just loves her and she takes a role that could have been bland and adds some excitement and character to it. Not your typical wife role. She actually offers some of the little comedic relief in the film. She is just cool and you wonder why would anyone cheat on her? The film tells you.
At heart the film seems to be about art Vs. commercial success in it’s style, theme and story. Also NYC Vs Los Angeles. It’s subtle as you slowly realize it and it works. I only wish it could have been more organic and inclusive, though it’s about passion. It comes off as cold. That seems more the Mike Figgis direction