i’ve never seen anything by james toback and, after this film, i probably won’t ever again. neve campbell’s nudity aside, the first ten minutes is absolutely awful. the camera moves constantly, the story cuts back and forth between two storylines and the accompanying music is obnoxious. it’s all an attempt, i think, to quickly establish the primary characters and hook the audience. it works in a sense, but left me so annoyed by the style that i was set against the film from the get go.
campbell plays a rich elitist student who is “discovering herself.” her “boyfriend” is a pathetic, but upscale, hustler. a rich italian media magnate contacts the boyfriend and says that he can work for him if the boyfriend arranges a meeting between him and campbell. essentially, then, it’s the same basic plot as indecent proposal, but it’s $100K instead of $1 million and sex isn’t explicit in the deal. anyway, campbell takes the offer and she sasses the rich guy enough to make him want her even more. he gives her $1 million bucks and she fucks him. then she plays the boyfriend by telling him that the rich guy didn’t give her any money. boyfriend gets pissed and confronts rich guy, brings him back to campbell’s NYC loft. confrontation ensues and boyfriend accidentally kills rich guy, gets hauled off to jail and campbell is proud of herself because now she knows what she’s capable of; she’s discovered herself. congratulations.
stylistically the film is very dialogue driven and camera happy; it attempts to be in the style of linklater’s “slacker” in this way. the dialogue is snappy, eloquent and highbrow. that said, it’s not good or endearing like linklater’s or tarantino’s, rather it’s obnoxious and serves as another reason to despise every single character in the film.
i hate films that revolve around sex, so that was strike number one with this film. strike number two was the soundtrack which was exceptionally obnoxious. bach and beethoven comprised most of the score during the last 2/3, but it came off as obnoxious and pretentious when juxtaposed with neve campbell’s presence. another unfortunate element of the film was the lack of sympathetic characters. there were characters who were less reprehensible, pretentious and highfalutin, but none who were at all likable. one might view campbell as a modern noir character. it’s not really a noir picture because the style isn’t noir and she gets away (a hallmark of noir is that “justice” [the bad guys get their due] is served in the end). she’s a femme fatale more in the tradition of fiorentino in the last seduction. the big difference is that fiorentino had style and class, whereas campbell has none. the opening and closing scenes show campbell showering. in the first scene you know nothing about her and so her naked body is mildly intriguing. by the end, though, she’s revealed herself as such an ugly character that that final shower scene just amplifies your disgust. one can look at a film like this in two ways – 1) it’s successful because film is meant to inspire emotion and thought, and this film did some of that. the final shower scene is testament to this fact. or, 2) it’s a failure because the characters were worthless and the filmgoing experience was more annoying than thought-provoking. i’m tending towards the latter.