Uli Edel’s entry in the erotic thriller subgenre of the 1990s is one of the worst of its kind. First off, there’s Madonna’s unfortunate performance, which is both wooden and lifeless, which makes the central conflict rather uninteresting. Then again, given Brad Mirman’s atrocious screenplay, no one can really blame her because not even Meryl Streep could make her stiff lines sound natural. Then, there’s Willem Dafoe in the lead role: Dafoe is a strong character actor but he’s not exactly anyone’s idea of a studly leading man, so the sex scenes end up more awkward than enticing. While we’re on the topic of sex scenes, it’s astounding that Mirman treats the subject of sex with feverish intensity but seems to have done no research regarding BDSM practices, so the “kinky” sex here is mostly just boring and off-putting. Add in a plot that manages to throw in misogyny and homophobia, not to mention Edel’s somnambulant directorial style and Doug Milsome’s ugly cinematography, and you’re left with a worthless erotic thriller that’s neither erotic nor thrilling.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)