Sinful Intrigue

More than anything in the film itself, I think I got a kind of perverse pleasure out of realizing that the only reason I rented this film was because Netflix recommended it based on my positive rating of In the Realm of the Senses. I guess, on a basic level, it makes sense since both are full of sex, but if Senses is one of the rare examples of the erotic film pushed into high art, Sinful Intrigue is the exact opposite. It’s basically the stereotypical late-night, Skinemax film with Becky Mullen playing Steph, the frustrated wife of Adam (Bobby Johnston), who are living in a neighborhood in which a mysterious, hooded figure is going around and tying up women. Mark Zuelke is Jake, a mechanic living in their backyard (I know; what?) and grieving over the death of his wife. Girls like Heather Ward, Terese Politi, and Venesa Taylor play Steph’s friends, and Pia Reyes is Yvette, an eccentric lesbian who is using Steph and Adam to remodel her house.

But the plot is practically inconsequential, and it’s one of the more obvious examples of a film which is only constructed on the premise of how easily it can move from one softcore sex scene to the next. Far be it for me to criticize such an intention inherently, but this is hardly an example of how to do it right. There was probably more erotic tension in a film like Double Indemnity than exists in this film, and the copious amounts of nudity do nothing to spice up the experience. You know a film is bad when it primarily exists to get its gorgeous cast undressed and in bed, and yet you find yourself fast-forwarding past the scenes just to get it over with. But, perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh, as there are some nice scenes that I would call sensual, rather than sexual, like Becky Mullen relaxing in a bath accompanied by candles and warm lighting (OK, it’s better than it sounds).

Perhaps the best thing I can say it that the film actually does have some slightly interesting characters and premise that keeps the story intriguing enough to finish. I should probably say that the characters are interesting in spite of the actors’ insistence on making them cardboard cutouts. But there does exist a certain natural chemistry between Steph and her girlfriends and Steph and Jake. At least the filmmakers chose the right lead for the film, since Mullen is the only trace of glue holding the project together. To be honest, I think the film’s biggest problem is in the fact that they casted the most stereotypical “ideal” beauties that you would see in Playboy. The same problem I have with that magazine is the same problem I have with this film; there’s a certain homogeneity, a manufactured, fake, Barbie Doll quality to the girls—really, all of the characters—that, like most of the acting, does what it can to not make anything remotely interesting.

Since I have almost nothing else worthwhile to say about the film, I guess I can use this final paragraph to preach on the evils of breast implants. To me, they are emblematic of why I hate that manufactured “ideal” of beauty, because they take something that is so wonderful largely because of its diversity, and make them look all the same. That’s probably one of the main reasons I couldn’t even get the least bit aroused during the film as all of the breasts are fake, and they all look the same. It really is as if these women came off an assembly line, and it’s more than a bit creepy. If it wasn’t for the fact that Mullen breathes a bit of personality into Steph, the entire thing would be positively worthless. OK, it’s close to that as it is, but if I can say I found myself even a bit interested in one of the characters and the mystery, then I can’t bring myself to chop it up after I’ve already killed it.


About Jonathan Henderson
I'm a dedicated aesthete that's been fascinated with the arts since I was in my early teens. At 13 I saw my first foreign film, which ignited my passion for world cinema. I also discovered the enormous world of music out there and fell in love with everything from death metal to classical. My love for literature has especially grown in recent years, and I've taken up writing (and working really hard at) poetry. But over the past 12 years I've probably taken to film criticism more than anything, and seeing Neon Genesis Evangelion reignited my love for the arts (especially film) and took it to an even higher level. Now I write film reviews for two sites, including this one and Cinelogue. I play poker professionally, and while the world of arts and poker don't seem to converge much, I have taken the deductive and inductive logic that poker requires and attempted to apply it to all the arts as well as my criticism in an attempt to get past the jellybean syndrome ("I like blue jellybeans, you don't, and that's all we can say.").

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