Portrait of an Affair (1988)

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30 September 2011 | lor_
Well-made XXX soap opera
Hardly amongst Anthony Spinelli's greatest achievements, PORTRAIT OF AN AFFAIR won three acting awards from the sycophantic adult periodical AVN when released, but has faded out of sight since. It's worth a look thanks to the auteur's craftsmanship.

Claustrophobically staged (only one brief scene in a car takes place outdoors), the drama concerns a marriage on the rocks. Hubby Robert Bullock is almost stereotypically a male chauvinist who has zero concern for his wife, especially exhibiting disinterest in helping her achieve an orgasm. Even in a flashback depicting them as newlyweds, he's from the "wham bam" school of sex, done with his business long before she can become aroused.

Ona Zee as the wife is posing for BFF artist Nina Hartley, with film opening and closing on a watercolor of her, the "portrait" of its title. First scene shows them having lesbian sex, and both femme performers are quite alluring. The vagaries of film history are reflected in Nina Hartley getting top billing and all the marketing attention in the current Caballero DVD reissue, when in fact Zee is the star.

Bullock cheats with barmaid Krista Lane (identifying herself as "Terri" verbally, but only credited on screen as "Bar Maid"). Lane, with her classic pointy nipples grabbing the camera's attention, briefly steals the movie with terrific delivery of sexual banter and a hot, extended sex scene. Her (and Bullock's) joking about "taking my temperature" led me to believe that anal sex was on tap, but instead mere doggy-style action is delivered here.

Tit for tat, Zee cheats on Bullock after she splits following a heated argument, with good old Mike Horner, whose acting is really fine in well-textured, sympathetic supporting role as an arts patron and luxury car (Ferrari, Lamborghini) salesman.

Though both Zee and Bullock wildly overact in crucial dramatic scenes (for which they unfortunately get extra credit in porn circles, a la Georgina Spelvin's hamming-it-up exercises), most of the film plays like a real film rather than mere porn. The resolution in the final reel is too cornball and sentimental for my taste, but does fit the soapy format well.

It's tough to criticize such a well-fashioned effort, but once you accept "the porn with good acting" status, it's mediocre fare.

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Adult | Drama | Romance




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