Ricky Greenwood has tried many a Hollywood genre in homage mode (especially for Sweetheart Video): female wrestling, roller derby, nunsploitation, '70s blaxploitation, thriler and women-in-prison. Here at MissaX he tackles film noir, and strikes out.
Charlotte Stokely is seriously miscast as a hard-boiled private eye, female division. The role called for an Angie Dickinson, Kathleen Turner or some porno equivalent, but lovely Charlotte, cross-dressing in Buster Brown two-tone shoes, ill-fitting floor-length trenchcoat and mannish hat looks like a little girl playing dress-up, sinking the project single-handedly. Even someone ignorant of film noir would immediately have decided: "No, Charlotte should be a femme fatale instead".
But that isn't the biggest or most obvious mistake here. Running over 3 hours long in 5 vignettes (so far, given the open ending), there's no excuse for the total lack of action (film noir usually has some exciting crime/chase/violence scenes, not just tough talk), and meager plot line consisting mainly of red herrings. Even the masters of the shaggy-dog film, the Coen Bros., are wont to dole out some entertaining thrills, dating back to their debut "Blood Simple".
No, instead he delivers intrminable sex scenes and little else. After the corny set-up of a client (Vanna Bardot) out to retrieve sexy polaroids from an unscrupulous guy who talked her into it that would devastate her dad if they got out, Charlotte instantly has sex with her, and then the guy's found dead and the client has gone missing.
Her dogged pursuit of the missing girl is relentlessly dull, livened up only by (besides the requisite XXX sex) a few colorful characters to interrogate and hump. Nothing is resolved, and we're left hanging at the end with an equally corny juxtaposition of cynicism (embodied in cop Aila Donovan, who takes an "It is what it is" type attitude to a corrupt world) and hope (wan Charlotte finishing the movie by burying in the ground a polaroid of her missing lover.
There are things to like here: Dee Williams delightful as always as a mega-zoftig ballet dancer easily seducing our heroine; and mom Penny Barber with her stepkid Laney Grey having faux incest in their home, the fabulous "Immoral Proposal" mansion, that looks quite different thanks to near-whiteout lighting exaggerating its already white on white decor. Plus vintage lingerie worthy of a Nick Orleans fetish opus.
Attention to detail is poor: costuming is relentlessly '40s or '50s, yet early on Maddy Barton's screenplay includes an anachronistic joke about Petula Clark's hit "Downtown", a 1965 chart-topper. As for actress Donovan, her false eyelashes are so extreme (moth-like) as to be ridiculously distracting, but don't get me started on criticizing her overall look -I'm no John Simon.
For successful Lesbian Cinema in this genre one need only check out a pair of Nica Noelle movies: "Lesbian Noir 1" and "Lesbian Noir 2', featuring fine scripts by Ray McLean, and both made for Sweetheart Video, where Ricky is currently directing.
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