An investment banker (Paul Mercurio) travels to Louisiana to snag the account of an eccentric millionaire (Malcolm McDowell) but gets involved with his lusty wife, Mardi Gras, and (possibly... See full summary »
An erotic story about a woman, the assistant of an art gallery, who gets involved in an impersonal affair with a man. She barely knows about his life, only about the sex games they play, so the relationship begins to get complicated.Written by
Michel Rudoy <email@example.com>
I think most people don't understand this movie. This is not a love story, at least not in the conventional sense. "9 1/2 weeks" is about sexual desire and intimate sensuality run amok and becoming the monopolizing forces in a relationship, and the ultimate demise of that relationship as a result. Certainly the physical pleasures and sensuality of sex are aspects that make a relationship fulfilling and gratifying but they are not the only facets. A relationship purely based on sexual desire is doomed to failure. At first it seems like a game, but later on the intensity is too much for the relationship to withstand, largely because if love and caring are sacrificed for the sex, it will die.
You almost couldn't find more suitable casting than Mickey Roarke and Kim Bassinger. Roarke plays John, a sexually-driven finance executive who is not satisfied with winning over the woman he wants. He craves continual heightened sexual excitement from his "lady friend". And he uses subtle coercion to achieve his goals. For Elizabeth, played by Bassinger, John is the ideal lover. He makes her breakfast, buys her clothes, brushes her hair. He takes care of her in an interesting role reversal. But nothing is free. In return, John wants Elizabeth to be in his complete control and engage in sensuous sex games. And each game is more intense than the last.
At first the games seem innocent enough. He likes to blindfold her and play a touchy-feely game in which he introduces objects that she feels and/or tastes. But then the requests become more intense. He wants her to enact a strip-tease, to dress in a certain way without her consent, and to receive a spanking for being a "nosey parker". They have sex in the oddest of places, sometimes engaging in intimate contact in public. At first Elizabeth enjoys the attention and the excitement until she begins to lose the sense of herself as the relationship intensifies. And John eventually goes too far.
At one poignant moment in the film, Elizabeth speaks with an artist-recluse. Because her job is at an art gallery, she helps coordinate artists for exhibitions. When she finds him in a rural area, she asks him if he remembered that his exhibition is coming up. He replies that when he is hungry he remembers to eat and when he is tired he remembers to sleep. She has lost the simpler pleasures of life, and this old man reminds her of that.
Late in the film there is an interesting scene where Elizabeth's former boyfriend comes to the place she works--not to see her but he is now dating one of her co-workers. He's a plain man who does not have nearly the sexual allure of Roarke. But he seems kind and honest. Liz watches her co-worker and her former boyfriend leave and there is an expression on her face that speaks volumes: maybe she misjudged him after-all. For a moment, the two stare at each other from a distance, and you get the feeling that she was the one who left him. He is not the Mr Exciting that John is, but maybe he has other qualities that John could never have.
This is quite a stunning film, certainly not for all tastes, and some of the steamy sex scenes could be misinterpreted as being only for pornographic sake. What saves it are the incredible and absolutely believable performances by the two leads, Roarke and Bassinger which strangely complement one another. Roarke plays his character right on the money, always enigmatic, never raising his voice, but always mysterious. His character is always just outside of reach. He constantly smiles, even when he is noticeable disappointed. Basinger is a perfect complement as one of the few actresses left who can be vulnerable and elicit a willingness to be under control that you don't see in many female performances anymore. Despite what may appear to be pornography, there is a point to the film I think, and that is that constant sexual control and nurturing relationships mix like oil and water. In the end you wonder if it was all a game.
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