28 March 2005 | lazarillo
Not THAT bad
The beginning of this movie really annoyed me. Asia Argento performs in a strip club, takes a shower, and nearly gets raped, all without actually having a nude scene! Don't get me wrong--even low-budget potboilers like this don't necessarily need nude scenes to be good, but it's annoying when a movie relentlessly teases the viewer with the promise of nudity but doesn't deliver (besides, it's not like Argento exactly has the pristine image of that other stripper-who-doesn't-strip, Natalie Portman--she's done nude scenes in movies directed by her FATHER, and supposedly had unsimulated sex on screen in her own directorial effort "Scarlet Diva").
After the beginning though this movie wasn't THAT bad. For once, we have a movie with a believable stalker in Dennis Hopper. It's really stupid how in Hollywood movies stalkers always seem to be young, beautiful women (Erica Christensen, Rebecca DeMornay, Alicia Silverstone, ad infinitum), the people who in real life are much more likely to be the ones being stalked. And Hopper's performance as "Deputy Rock" is uncharacteristically subdued and psychologically nuanced. He isn't primarily interested in Argento for sex (although that element is there), but keeps her in a cage in what he views as an effort to protect her. He really is the straight-arrow cop he appears to be, just to a completely psychotic extent. I also liked Lochlyn Munro as the good guy cop and Helen Shaver as the woman producing an anti-drug show with Deputy Rock (who turns out to be just as crazy as he is). Which brings us back to Argento, who is probably the weakest link here, but she's certainly not awful. It's refreshing, for instance, that while she eventually fights back, she doesn't completely turn into the butt-kicking babe dispatching the villain with a stupid one-liner (a stereotype every bit as annoying as the old-fashioned "damsel in distress"--and even more unrealistic). Her character obviously feels morally compromised as a stripper and rape victim even before she's taken prisoner, and she has to overcome this as well as her captor. Argento can believably play a morally compromised character better than most big-name American actresses, so she's well suited for the role at least (even if she never does get around to actually taking her clothes off).