VOD Review - Indiscretion

Ever since Fatal Attraction (1987) became the cultural phenomenon that it did, making hundreds of millions and earning six, Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, many films have tried to copy it or give their take on what is an incredible and erotically thrilling premise. Directed and co-written by John Stewart Muller, this movie gender-bends the Fatal Attraction idea, which isn't new. Three films within the past three years have also done a gender-bender on that relationship between Michael Douglas and Glenn Close's characters. Instead of a wealthy, male adulterer and his female mistress who becomes psychotic and dangerously obsessive, this movie has a wealthy, female adulterer and her male paramour who becomes a scary stalker.

The three, aforementioned films did more than just swap the sexes of the two main characters. They also added another twist on that 1987 premise. Anthony DiBlasi's Missionary dealt with issues around Mormonism. Billie Woodruff's Addicted dealt with issues of sex obsession. Both his protagonists were also black. Rob Cohen's The Boy Next Door had both his protagonists as Latino. This movie has a twist, but it's not cosmetic as simply changing the ethnicity of the characters, not that ethnicity is merely cosmetic, but Muller's movie has a deeper twist in the works, one that's almost on the level of a M. Night Shyamalan film.

Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite and Mimic) stars as Veronica Simon, the wife of a politician who is running for the U.S. Senate, representing Louisiana. She at once had political aspirations but those aspirations were pushed to the side when she became pregnant. Now, her child is a teenage girl and Veronica is campaigning along side her husband, but she has to deflect from rumors that her husband is having an affair, while also maintaining her job as a psychiatrist.

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride and Saw) plays Jake Simon, the aforementioned husband who seems like a loving and caring father and spouse. He seems like your average suit, but is somewhat of a smooth blonde charmer. He denies that he's having an affair or rather Veronica does. He never actually says it himself. He is more concerned with his career at times, as his candidacy doesn't appear to be a sure thing.

Christopher Backus (Underground and Roadies) co-stars as Victor, an artist that does sculptures made not just out of clay but pieces of hardware from various sources, whether it's electronics, appliances, knick-knacks or whatever junk. He also likes to take Polaroids. He's tall, dark and handsome, long black hair and piercing eyes, a very sexy guy with a devilish smile. He was in the military but had some kind of mental problems because he's in therapy with Veronica's best friend and colleague.

Even if Fatal Attraction wasn't on Muller's mind, which would have been virtually impossible, Muller does reference another famous story about an obsessive lover. Muller does an obvious callback to The Phantom of the Opera. Veronica's name might as well be Christine and Victor could very much be the titular rogue from that Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. She's no soprano and he's not disfigured physically. Psychologically, it's a different story, but this movie is at times as haunting as that musical. The difference is that Veronica may or may not be in need of rescue.

Most gender-bending films of Fatal Attraction try not to make the woman protagonist a victim, a veritable damsel-in-distress. In Fatal Attraction, the woman protagonist was the femme fatale, a trope used to great effect. Yet, the twist of this movie is not drawing a line and putting the woman on either side of the victim or vixen line. The twist of this movie is that she can be both. Muller's movie even slightly supposes a man can be both an injured party and a homme fatale.

Unfortunately, Victor's escalation into craziness is almost too fast, but Muller needs to get through a lot of plot machinations. It's step after step without ever taking a moment to breathe. It's suspenseful in that way. Despite the pace, Sorvino is in almost every scene, so she's given more than enough room to do her best Michael Douglas impersonation. Backus is limited in that regard. He isn't given as much room as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. He's certainly not given enough to make us sympathize with him, which seems to be the goal in the movie's final scene. Maybe if the final act hadn't made Victor so insane, the left turn made in the final scene wouldn't have been so jarring.

It's a turnabout that doesn't quite land. The movie is never able to come back from Victor's craziness. It wants to leave us on a note that Backus's character isn't all that bad and Sorvino's character is akin to Nicole Kidman's in To Die For. Sorvino is able to sell it though to some degree. With Backus, I'm not so sure.

Rated TV-MA.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.

Available on iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Netflix and Amazon.


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