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Wild Side (1995, 96 minutes)

September 5, 2010




Alex(Anne Heche) is a sex addict who moonlights as a prostitute by night. Virginia(Joan Chen) is married to an underworld big shot, Bruno (Christopher Walken), who has recently become involved with Alex. During a scheme thought up by crooked cop, Tony (Steven Bauer), the two women unexpectedly come together and start a plan of their own.

The Review:

This movie gained notoriety long after it was released thanks to Anne Heche’s relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. Keep in mind the movie was made before Anne became aware of her attraction to Ellen. Although, it is beyond me how anyone could not become aware of such a thing after kissing Joan Chen.  It’s still really difficult for me to separate Anne Heche, the actress, from the person who gained all the notoriety through the craziness in her personal life. If you can manage to put it aside, give this movie a try. I happened to see the movie before Anne’s affair with Ellen and I was really taken by the movie.

I had seen the ad on HBO and it led me to believe that at the very least two women would kiss. I didn’t expect much beyond this being a certain type of exploitation movie. At first, I thought i was right; I almost didn’t get through it. The first part of this movie is very distasteful. Be warned, there is violence, sex with men, including a humorous scene between Walken and Heche. There is also a rape scene, which I find difficult to watch. I know that the scene did not need to be so graphic (the portrayal of rape in movies is still an issue that I have not resolved); but at least in this movie, the rapist (Bauer) does get what is coming to him.

Once you get past those first 20 minutes or so, the movie starts moving. It’s a twisted tale that connects Bruno, Alex, Alex, Virginia and Tony, who are all back stabbing each other.  Bruno is a crook and Tony is the cop trying to catch him. Bruno’s lover and wife,  Alex and Virginia respectively,  get caught up with each other and in his schemes.  Anne and Joan have a real palpable chemistry and they are both extremely gorgeous. There is a tender, erotic love scene.  Explicit sexuality wasn’t surprising in this type of movie, I expected titillation. What I didn’t expect was a love story. Alex, a self admitted sex addict, falls in love for the first time and seems genuinely surprised that it came in the face of a woman. Virginia is not an innocent flower either, she’s an expert at manipulating others for her gain. Their trust and love is tested as they fight against the bad guys in an effort to get away with their lives and with the loot.  It is reminiscent of Bound in a lot of ways, but don’t expect any of the suspense or plot twists of Bound. It does have a happy ending that is sweet, satisfying and surprising in a movie that looks like it came from the erotic thriller genre.

There is a longer director’s cut available in England. My understanding is that it does not add more to the Chen/Heche sex scene. Someone even suggests the American version seems longer in that particular scene and that the story flows better in the shorter version. I saw it originally on HBO and I have the American DVD.


From → Movies

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