28 September 2007 | Nodriesrespect
More Than Meets the Eye
The pseudonymous "Robert McCallum" a/k/a the late real world director and ace DoP Gary Graver may have claimed, if the opening scroll's anything to go by, that this adult film - one of his or anyone else's very best ever - was based on a real life case history, yet to any viewer somewhat versed in world cinema it should be immediately clear that Luis Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR served as the real source of inspiration. Best to overlook the needlessly sensational title, which unfortunately makes the movie sound like "exploitation city" (to quote late great genre critic Jim Holliday), as this proves a thoughtful dramatic sex film that easily ranks among the intimate industry's finest.
Genre goddess Annette Haven at her most ethereally lovely delivers a compelling performance as Valerie, trophy wife of upper middle class attorney John Leslie. Left alone throughout most of the day, she discovers the urge to experience sex of the seamier kind. To this effect, she takes up afternoon residence at Madame Jacinda's fancy cat house. Under the tutelage of "house girls" Sandi Pinney, dusky diva Desiree West and the tragic Kristine Heller, she learns to fulfill the fantasies of the lonely regulars like frustrated school principal "Radio" Ray Wells and mother-fixated weirdo John Seeman who frequent the place...until her husband's business partner Paul Thomas inadvertently turns up looking for action. As Valerie's devious "best friend", an unusually serpentine Laurien Dominique languidly observes from the sidelines as some sort of semi-oblivious fantasy facilitator or distaff Greek chorus.
An effortlessly intriguing and intelligent script is handled with commendable delicacy by Graver, who was of course also responsible for the first rate cinematography. Sex scenes are invariably raw and intense with the usually ladylike Haven really letting her hair down for a welcome change, especially in the memorable marital rape sequence with Leslie. Kay Parker makes her non-sex debut as the maternal madam and, ironically, looks older than she did in subsequent features. Extremely interesting eclectic soundtrack borrows from real world sources far and wide, including several tracks (amongst which his popular "Psyché Rock") by French avant-garde/"musique concrète" deity Pierre Henry, already employed by this director to spectacular effect in his fabulous fornication film-making debut 3 AM.