1 April 2000 | njashanmal
An ignored and Marginalized Film
Except perhaps in Paris where, until recently, it played in a cinema just off the Champs Elysee. This film has been condemned from just about every possible, so I will not try and defend it blow by blow. There is much to appreciate here, particularly when the film is looked at in the context of it being the '80's "Last Tango In Paris" - perhaps even self consciously so. The opening shot of "Nine 1/2 Weeks" echoes the famous opening of "Last Tango In Paris" and there are many parallels, but never to the point of it becoming overt.
If one accepts that form is to mirror content and apply that here it becomes clear that efforts were made to do so. The visual 'look' of both films not only mirror their content (for 'Tango': a muted color pallette, yet somehow lush, there is a layer over everything) but also their era. Both films deal with similar subject matter, in the context of the time in which they were made.
"Nine 1/2 Weeks" IS the '80's in much the way that "Last Tango..." is the '70's - the obsessions of an era are embodied in the struggle of two human bodies. Motions, touches are imbued with something beyond what is happening in the here and now. Very much in question here is the internal landscape of the characters involved - something one, as a filmmaker, would rather expose in a visual way as opposed to having characters pontificate about it (though Brando TALKS in "Last Tango..." it is very often what he doesn't say, the silence between two lines of dialogue, that SAY more) - in "Nine 1/2 Weeks" there are many visual cues/pointers as to the characters' states of mind, i.e. their apartments, the manner in which they are decorated stark, all straight lines (John) vs. cluttered and dusty (Liz). Elements like that make a film work.
The only moments of relief that Liz experiences in the film are when she is away from the city, away from John, amidst nature with the painter - in fact, one almost never sees John outside, just like Paul in "Last Tango..." - all these little cues about character should raise the questions in the viewer's mind - what sort of person would?...