Crimes of Passion (1984)
, directed by Ken Russell.
Ken Russell, Sex Doctor! Erratic as he was at film directing, it's probably best he stuck to that. I remember liking this a lot but now... well, times have changed, as has the viewer.
- Kathleen Turner is a cold and tightly wound fashion designer by day, but after hours moonlights as "China Blue", a specialty prostitute who will do any sort of role-playing nastiness.
- Anthony Perkins provides his reliably bizarre talents to enact a crazed self-loathing street preacher who wants to do something to China. Save her, kill her, something.
- John Laughlin is an ordinary working guy and family man, sexually frustrated to the breaking point, who becomes enamored of China in both of her characters.
- Annie Potts has the thankless role of his frigid, hectoring wife who doesn't want to hear about this sex stuff.
- It is bold filmmaking, like experimental theater where the audience is meant to be uncomfortable.
- Films seldom have such raw and honest conversations on sex as the midnight pillow talk of the husband and wife.
- Dramatic visual design, lurid neon in the red light district, natural tones in suburbia.
- Russell has repellent notions of sex. The fantasies, costumes, smutty patter: they all drain the images of what appeal they might have. Maybe he intends that. I can't tell.
- Back then the dialogue seemed like properly stylized stage-speak. Now it is just plain bad, like the writer's outline of the characters' messages or a rough first draft of what he wants them to say.
- Even as overblown psychotic plot development the ending makes no sense. And what did they do with the body?
- Rick Wakeman's brief score tends toward the irritating and we have to have a music video.
This is brave work by Kathleen Turner, still early in her career and already enthusiastically trying new and risky roles. By contrast, she did the soft adventure/romance Romancing the Stone (1984)
the same year.
Available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video, containing both the theatrical and director's cut, which is I think just the original version before it was trimmed to earn an R rating. More porn-like explicitness, and a savage scene where China cuffs a big policeman and rides hard, including brutal work with his nightstick up his backside.
The director and writer provide a commentary track. Russell is always funny but I'm never sure how accurate. He had to leave the session and I bailed after that.
He says: the reason Anthony Perkins looks like he has slept in his clothes is that he would take them home every night and sleep in them.