Review: Erotic Thriller
Duration: 100 minutes
The story: Plush frontwoman Hayley (Emily Browning) copes with the death of her brother and bandmate by writing songs about him. But the response to Plush's new material is tepid. She works with replacement guitarist Enzo (Xavier Samuel) to give the songs some edge and their growing intimacy eventually turns sexual. Hayley, who is married with two young children, starts to pull back, but Enzo has other ideas.
This could have been a kinky little movie about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. But director Catherine Hardwicke tries to pack in too much and keeps shoving in the trappings of a thriller here.
Musical cues suggest something ominous is about to happen - and then nothing does. It gets a bit tiring after a few false starts.
For a while, Hayley's downward spiral keeps one hooked. She might be married with children, but her behaviour is anything but wifely or maternal. Touring again to support a new album, she slips back into a hedonistic rock 'n' roll lifestyle of boozing and sexual trysts with the replacement guitarist.
As played by Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, 2011), Hayley is largely a babydoll-faced cipher. Mostly, she exhibits questionable judgment. She even agrees to film an uncomfortably suggestive music video at her home, in the presence of her husband and children.
Given that the film is helmed by Hardwicke, the rather passive female character is something of a surprise. After all, the American film-maker is better known for films with stronger and more proactive women such as in youth drama Thirteen (2003) and in the fantasy Red Riding Hood (2011).
Instead, Enzo is the more fascinating role here, baiting both men and women with his bad boy rocker vibe. One could well imagine Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 2010) as the charismatic guitarist of some dark indie band.
Like a singer going disastrously off-key in a crescendo, the movie goes all haywire in its final act. The consequences of Hayley's reckless behaviour come home to roost in a spectacularly ludicrous fashion.
It is so campy and over the top that you could end up laughing out loud. That is not a good sign when the film in question is not a comedy.
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