13 June 2000 | heedon
Hollywood sometimes surprises us.
Does a woman become exquisitely androgynous when her hair is cut short and combed like a man's, and she is made to look boyish? Hell, yeah! At least, as long as she has her clothes on. For an erotic psychological thriller, try "Love Crimes" (1991), with an exquisitely androgynous Sean Young and a handsome Patrick Bergin.
Sean Young's co-star, Patrick Bergin, is special as the perp. Her voice is velvety and seductive, and so is his. Prosecutor/detective Dana Greenaway (Young), is good-looking, and so is photographer/perpetrator, David Hanover (Bergin). They're a perfect match, on opposite sides of the coin, since he's the evil one and she is trying to nab him by switching jobs from prosecutor to detective and going out into the field alone.
Nothing is far-fetched in cinema any more than in life, and the plot of "Love Crimes" is based on events in the life of fashion photographer, Richard Avedon.
It's so gripping and near-perfect a movie, that I postponed watching the denouement for one night so as not to spoil what I'd seen so far, by an ending. Then, I thought to watch the movie to the end in increments, or to never know it. But, I gave in the second night and watched it through.
If "Love Crimes" has anything but a Hollywood ending, it will make for a rare American movie because the potential is there. And, in part, that's where director, Lizzie Borden, leads us. Aren't we right to expect something unusual from a director with the name, Lizzie Borden, named after America's notorious axe-murderer?
In "Love Crimes" Sean Young does something erotically outrageous, the likes of which hasn't been seen in a movie since beautiful Maruschka Detmers fellated her co-star, Federico Pitzalis, in Marco Bellochio's gem,"Il Diavolo in Corpo" ("Devil in the Flesh"), fifteen years ago.
In "Love Crimes" an exciting cat and mouse chase is enacted between photographer, David Hanover (Bergin) and prosecutor/ detective, Dana Greenaway (Young). Something strange occurs in several confrontations between Greenaway and Hanover when Hanover disarms himself by giving up a loaded gun--and more than once. By this act, the director suddenly ups the tension many notches by abruptly shifting the balance of power.
Lizzie Borden is up to something and on track for deviating from the Hollywood norm. The episodes of power shifting played slowly (as they should be) make us wonder what the good guy will do. They may be the best moments of a remarkable movie. See how far the director is willing to take it.
"Love Crimes" like any movie has flaws but they don't take away from the delicate psychological jousting of the antagonists Some time in their lives men and women possess a physical beauty that reaches its height. When that beauty is exploited by a director and captured by the camera, beauty's pleasure is transmitted to whoever is sensitive to it. Such is the beauty of Sean Young and Patrick Bergin when they made "Love Crimes."
Patrick Bergin may engender as much sympathy as we give Don Juan, but we shouldn't confuse that with a fine performance. He is the perp and he is superb as a convincingly seductive confidence man.
Bergin is gentle, smart, soft-spoken and manipulative. He is also liable to self-destruct or to attack when his mind or emotions dictate. We don't know what he'll do next, or what Sean Young will do either, and that is the film's charm.
Some of the new female directors either like having their female leads appear mannish, like Robin Wright in "Loved" and Sean Young in "Love Crimes," or choose to make a movie in which the lead character calls for a male impersonator like Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry."
If you look at some films directed by women going back to Diane Kurys' "Entre Nous" to "Thelma and Louse," "The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love," "Loved" "Kissed" and "Love Crimes" you get a refreshingly varied perspective on the nature of women and men. The new female directors travel along interesting paths with their unique vision of the human animal and the human condition, and hopefully they'll let us come along more often.