Movie Review - Addicted

Sharon Neal and William Levy in "Addicted"
At first, I thought the title was just a metaphor, and that this movie would be a slicker, more hip and sexier version of David E. Talbert's What My Husband Doesn't Know or Tyler Perry's Temptation, both stories of married black women who cheat on their spouses. This movie seemed to be hitting all the same notes as those two, minus all the religious aspects and preaching. Yet, at a point, it becomes obvious that the title isn't a metaphor. This movie is really about a woman who is a sex addict.

Within the past few years, there have been a couple of films that have addressed sex addiction as a serious subject. One was Michael Fassbender in Shame (2011). Another was Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon (2013), and another was Charlotte Gainsbourg in Nymphomaniac (2014). Even though I'm not convinced that either of those films make the case for sex addiction in men and women, they certainly do a better job than this one.

What hampers this movie from being a true exploration is the framework. Based on the novel by Zane, with a screenplay by Christina Welsh and Ernie Barbarash, the sex addict in question is married and supposedly suffered some trauma as a child. Now, I'm not sure what causes sex addiction, but it's difficult to have an open and honest conversation about it with melodramatic road blocks, such as adultery and rape.

Shame, Don Jon and Nymphomaniac didn't have those road blocks. Somehow, Steve McQueen who wrote and directed Shame, Joseph Gordon-Levitt who did Don Jon and Lars Von Trier who did Nymphomaniac understood that those road blocks are hackneyed in that they've been used as vehicles for deviant or aberrant, sexual behavior countless times. For decades, we've seen men and women act out due to being bored in marriage or due to being molested or sexually assaulted.

Seeing those road blocks compounded here makes the movie ultimately nothing than titillation or prurient pulp. There's also a kind of laziness or distrust of the audience that the filmmakers decided to throw in an element of danger where all of a sudden you think you're in a slasher film. The sex addict in question has one of her lovers turn psychotic and murderous. It's at that point things have gone off the rails. Supposedly, as with the rape revelation, it's meant to make the sex addict more sympathetic, yet it's only silly, telenovela silly.

Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls and Why Did I Get Married) stars as Zoe Reynard, an art dealer who runs her own management company in Atlanta. She's married to Jason, an architect who likes to work late, played by Boris Kodjoe (Soul Food). One of her top clients is a painter named Quinton Canosa, a sexy latin lover who flirts hard, played by Cuban heartthrob William Levy (Cuidado Con El Ángel). Zoe has eyes for him in return, but she also has eyes for Corey, a motorcyclist and nightclub whore, played by male supermodel Tyson Beckford.

Once Zoe's insatiable sexual adventure begins, she neglects her responsibilities as a mother of two. She's constantly missing her son Peter's soccer games. Zoe's daughter Kayla becomes even more insignificant. However, Zoe starts to abandon her duties at her company. Her business partner Brina, played by Emayatzy Corinealdi, a dedicated and ambitious art dealer, really gets worried. As does Zoe's mom who lives with her. Zoe's mom Nina is played by Maria Howell. Zoes does secretly see a therapist, played by Tasha Smith, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

Like so many filmmakers, director Billie Woodruff started or made a name for himself through music videos. The influence of the way those videos depict sexuality can be felt here. Author Zane's work has been adapted before, mostly for cable television, and its trademark is mainly its ability to be soft-core porn for African-Americans or people of color. Woodruff splits the difference.

Within the first five minutes, Woodruff puts two totally naked, beautiful, black bodies engaging in intercourse right in our faces. He's not coy. There are no strategically-placed blankets. It's direct, overhead, wide shots as to see everything and not hold back. It's not as graphic later, even when oral sex and even sadomasochism are briefly introduced, yet it is quite intense. Anyone solely interested in seeing a black woman get physical with a bevy of gorgeous men of color, here it is.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


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