Ponderous with dialogue, as plays tend to be, the script propels itself forward by focusing on one sexual dalliance then another.  Characters lash out at each other and speak in the most graphic of terms imaginable.  It is witty?  At times.  “It’s not safe out there,” Dan says to Alice, as she walks out on him after his confession. “And it’s safe in here?”  Yet during other moments, the film is heavy with its own sense of self-importance.  “You be my whore and I will repay you with your liberty,” Larry begs of Anna, who succumbs to his request.  

The film insists that we are predominantly sexual beings who will always crave that which we cannot have.  “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking off her clothes,” Alice says. “But it’s so much more fun if you do.”  The result is that, because we are just one step above animals on the evolutionary chain (“We were fish, long ago, before we were apes”), we will ultimately give in to those cravings and create chaos around us.  Our only hope lies in finding someone with whom we are the most compatible, who will forgive our ongoing sexual transgressions.

As the film ends, the viewer is left with the overwhelming sense that life is meaningless.  “Everything is a version of something else,” says one character.  Nothing is real, for humans are incapable of truth and goodness.  “Try lying for a change – it’s the currency of the world,” says Dan.  Later, Larry echoes this sentiment when he calls the heart a “fist wrapped in blood.”  “Congratulations,” Dan says to Anna.  “You’re a double divorcee. How do you feel?”  She answers, “Tired.”

Is this another “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe” for Nichols, millennium style?  With its quadrangle of overt sexuality and foul language, this film certainly pushes the envelope, as he is wont to do.  In fact, it would appear that a new line has again been crossed, much in the same way that Nichols did with not only “Virginia Wolfe,” but also “Silkwood,” “Carnal Knowledge” and “The Graduate.”  In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the director insisted that his film contains “just three seconds of nudity – maybe two.”  I can only wonder if he is referring to the shot of Portman’s anus, the nude strippers or the repeated shot of a naked woman in a sex ad placed on a computer we see again and again.  Seems like fuzzy math to me.

Even if the overt nudity is limited – and compared to other films, it is, but that’s not saying much – the sex talk isn’t.  And it is this which makes the film pornographic.  Rather than the usual visual pornography of celluloid copulation, we are subjected to an onslaught of verbal and written pornography throughout the film.  Art?  Many will insist it is, but I beg to differ.
 
AUDIENCE:  Adults only – and only if you must.

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT

  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:  Heavy.  Characters smoke and drink throughout film; several scenes in nightclubs and strip clubs with people drinking and smoking.
  • Language/Profanity:  Extreme.  More than 50 profanities and obscenities including at least three dozen f-words.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Extreme.  Highly graphic, pornographic dialogue about sex between characters takes place throughout film. Multiple instances of upper female nudity and lower female rear nudity in several scenes, particularly two which take place in a strip club and one in a private room, where female stripper spreads legs and bends over, giving audience a very graphic view.  Character begins to masturbate.  References to homosexuality. Multiple instances of adultery, fornication and a very graphic, pornographic internet exchange between two characters. 
  • Violence:   Average.  Woman is hit by car (offscreen) and left with bloody face and knee; woman fears man will hit her but he does not; man raises his hand to hit another woman, she taunts him, then he slaps her.