Saturday, 6 February 2016

wild orchid

wild orchid is a kind of sex drama about young attorney emily reed (carre otis) and her relationship with eccentric millionaire wheeler (mickey rourke). it transpires that emily's boss, claudia (jacqueline bisset) once lusted after wheeler but he refused to touch her, so she sets him up with emily to discover whether the problem was just her or all women. however, as emily grows closer to wheeler she discovers that his issues with sex and women may be far more deep-rooted and complex than anyone could have predicted.

i'll be honest, i had a hard time with this film. there are things to like, i mean it looks fantastic and it made me want to go to rio. it's nice to see young mickey rourke in stuff, although i find him far too menacing to play a sensitive romantic lead. there are some incredible party scenes and there is a palpable sense of decadence throughout, but as you may be able to tell from the plot description, there isn't much of a story. my favourite part was when bruce greenwood turned up, because he's one of those actors that improves any film he's in by at least twenty per-cent and he was by far the coolest thing in this film.

i'm not even sure what to compare this too. i guess basic instinct is the closest comparison, but without the thriller element. i haven't read or seen fifty shades of grey but i imagine there are some similarities, which is perhaps why this film is being released on blu-ray right now. i guess that's the audience that would enjoy this kind of thing but i'm not sure. i have no idea who they were aiming for at the time. i might be able to understand it from an exploitation perspective, but there's not even that much sex in the film. i mean, there's probably more sex than people were used to seeing onscreen in 1989, i wouldn't know, but for a film which is essentially all about sex, there isn't much sex in it, and what sex we do see isn't particularly interesting.

the fact is, the characters in this film are incredibly dull. emily is the erotic fiction version of a mary sue, because she's this hot-shot lawyer whom everyone is in love with and she's maybe 19 years old, if that. wheeler is supposed to be a poor kid who made his fortune fixing up houses and has now seen and done so many things he's bored of life and has to amuse himself by 'playing games' with people. his games mostly involve him being a bit creepy and annoying. there is zero chemistry between otis and rourke (ironic considering they were married not long after this film) and because they are both so lifeless i had no interest in seeing them fuck.

part of me wonders if wild orchid has simply dated badly. i think there's supposed to be a sense of the taboo in what emily and wheeler are doing, although i don't really see how. wheeler often appears with a rosary in his hand, suggesting there's some religious message i missed, or perhaps simply that he's constantly atoning for his sins. this sets up a false hope for some kind of intrigue to his character, but ultimately he's just a bored rich guy who doesn't like touching women.

the one part of the film i did like was the relationship between claudia and emily. claudia was probably the most interesting character in the film and bisset plays her with a real sense of someone who is clinging on to their lost youth. there's a great sequence in which claudia and emily go to a business deal dressed as men, i forgot why, but they do actually look pretty cool and it's the only time the film surprised me.

there are things about wild orchid that make it a worthwhile watch, mostly the scenery but it is also kind of interesting as a curiosity piece. that said, i found it tough going, and to be honest if you really want to watch a film about sex and taboo i'd sooner recommend all four hours of nymphomaniac or anything by catherine breillat instead of this.

wild orchid will be released on blu-ray by eureka entertainment on 8 february 2016

1 comment:

  1. Interesting take on this one, Paz. I liked this movie when it came out, but freely admit I was a HUGE Mickey Rourke fan so I'm biased. Your review is pretty dead-on. The director, Zalman King, is basically known for movies/shows about sex in beautiful locations. That's pretty much it. There's not much more substance to it than that. 9 1/2 Weeks is better (although that one is also overrated and, as far as sex movies go, also doesn't have much--at least not enough to deserve its reputation). Truth be told, I'm kinda afraid to revisit this one because I'm pretty sure I'll be disappointed.

    PS: I agree about Nymphomaniac--thought it was a wonderfully depressing character study. It's flawed but I really dug it.

    PSS: You've seen Angel Heart, right? Mickey's best movie by far (although The Wrestler is a close second).