There’s an area in Bournemouth – where I’d currently hang my hat if I wore won – known as the local red light district, and unfortunately it’s on the road upon which I live. Let’s get one thing cleared up right now: hookers do not look like Julia Roberts, and if they did, they probably wouldn’t be struggling for money, regardless of how much their flatmate spends on drugs.
Remarkably, Aisha had neither seen nor heard much about this chickiest of chick flicks, filling the role of girly film of the decade between Dirty Dancing and the Notebook. And just like those two films, for anyone with a Y chromosome, this film is terrible. Firstly, Roberts’ streetwalker Vivian Ward is a horrendous role model. Not only is she a prostitute, by the end of the film it is clear she would have remained one forever were it not for Richard Gere’s ridiculously wealthy businessman Edward Lewis. The moral here kids is don’t worry, you’re live may turn to crap, but someday someone will come along, wave their magic credit card shaped wand and give you everything you’ve ever wanted. Essentially an, ahem, adult retelling of a fairy tale – Cinderella and Rapunzel are both namechecked – the film retains every sense of logic and reality of its inspirations.
It’s only saving graces are from the supporting cast – Jason Alexander as essentially a more successful George Costanza and the great Larry Miller as a preening store manager (“She has my [credit] card” “And we’ll help her use it, sir.”), but otherwise the story is one-note and the lead performances average at best, with the actors feeling very robotic and over-directed. And even worse, Aisha has now added it to her Amazon wish list.
The first spoken word in this film is “garbage”. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I don’t quite get the big deal of this piece. Centring around four main characters, Andie Macdowell’s prudent homemaker Ann, her promiscuous sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), Ann’s lawyer husband John (Peter Gallagher) who is sleeping with both of them, and his old college friend Graham (James Spader), this plays out slowly and plainly, with plot points signposted miles in advance. Graham hasn’t seen John for 9 years, but has moved back into town and needs somewhere to stay temporarily, so crashes at theirs. He seems a little off, a little antisocial and distanced from the world, and when Ann goes to visit him in his new apartment, she discovers he has a ‘personal project’ that involves him videotaping women discussing their sexual experiences, and occasionally masturbating. It seems the only way the impotent Graham can become aroused is via a camera, hence this rather literal stockpiled wank bank. The film shows how powerful a camera can be, with the subjects being more willing to open up when staring into a lens than someone else’s face, and Spader’s performance is riveting and genuinely unsettling at times, but watching Macdowell trying to act is painful, and not enough unexpected occurs.