DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

WILD SIDE (director/writer: Donald Cammell; screenwriter: China Kong; cinematographer: Sead Mutarevic; editor:  Frank Mazzola; music:  Jon Hassell; cast: Christopher Walken (Bruno Buckingham), Steve Bauer (Tony), Anne Heche (Alex Lee/Johanna), Allen Garfield (Dan Rackman), Joan Chen (Virginia Chow), Adam Novak (Lyle Litvak), Zion (Hiro Sakamoto), Randy Crowder (Federal Agent), Marcus Aurelius (James Reed), Lewis Arquette (The Chief); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Elie Cohn/John Langley; Timeless Media Group; 1995)

"Awkwardly executed erotic thriller, that thrives on its kinkiness and absurdity."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Awkwardly executed erotic thriller, that thrives on its kinkiness and absurdity. This was the gifted British filmmaker Donald Cammell's ("Performance"/"Demon Seed"/"White of the Eye") fourth and final film, he committed suicide soon after its theater release. The studio badly cut it, not knowing how to handle its perversions, provocative thrills, full-force attack on consumerism, its view of cops as even less ethical than the crooks they are pursuing or messages about sex as a power trip. After its cable showings, editor Frank Mazzola and the pic's co-writer China Kong, the widow of the director, got 25 minutes restored to bring it closer to Cammell's original vision.

Alex Lee (Anne Heche) is a polished corporate bank executive in Long Beach, California, who is in debt for over $200,000 due to a mortgage on her beachfront house. To make some quick money, Alex becomes a high priced call-girl at night. One of her clients is the eccentric millionaire Bruno Buckingham (Christopher Walken), who is a thrill seeker and involved as the world's biggest money launderer. Ruthless and crude FBI agent Tony (Steve Bauer) works undercover as Bruno's driver, and after raping Alex blackmails her to work with him to nail Bruno in a sting operation. In the meantime, Alex falls in love with Bruno's money laundering Chinese wife Virginia Chow (Joan Chen) and schemes to see how she can survive the dirty cops and greedy kinky criminal and live with Virginia as lovers.

The storyline and the characters are weakly drawn, as its soft-core porn seems the only thing taken seriously. But it's not a bomb, it only fails to be as incendiary as expected.

REVIEWED ON 8/10/2013       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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