David Cronenberg's examination of automobile-eroticism is a failed experiment.
James Spader stars as James Ballard, a jaded Hollywood producer who is bored
with life and spends his time comparing extramarital affairs with his jaded wife,
Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger). One night he gets into a head-on car crash with
Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter), killing Dr. Remington's husband. However,
the moment is the most sexually exciting moment of their lives. Soon, he and
Helen are drawn into the world of car crash fetishists, led by the mysterious
Vaughan (Elias Koteas), a performance artist who stages reenactments of fatal
celebrity car crashes. And throughout the film theres plenty of sex. Lots and
lots of sex, actually. The film exhausts nearly every possible combination of
sexual partners available to it. And all of this is amid the object of the
fetishism: cars and the aftermath of their collisions. There's chrome, twisted
metal, scars, scabs, bruises and wounds. Lots of them, actually. So much
that the storyline gets buried at points. The film is as obsessed with its
subject as its characters are with car crashes, but it never figures out a way
to transfer that obsession to the audience. Rather than show us why these people are obsessed,
the film merely concentrates on their obsession: the gruesome aftermath of car crashes.
As a result, watching the umpteenth sex scene in a car seems pointless and overly familiar.
To top it off, much of the film is in rather bad taste.
The film is alternately compelling and repulsive...but repulsion wins the day.
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