Killing Me Softly

2001, Movie, R, 100 mins

Review

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Chinese director Chen Kaige's bravura technique is the best thing about this over-the-top erotic thriller, which was dismissed by most reviewers because its illogical story is so ridiculous. American website designer Alice (Heather Graham) lives in London and shares a sane, comfortable life with her rock-solid boyfriend, Jake (Jason Hughes), until the day when she locks eyes with mystery man Adam Tallis (Joseph Fiennes) on the street. A renowned mountaineer, Adam is secretly haunted by an accident that felled six climbers and loses himself in erotic gymnastics. Alice tosses her safe, unchallenging existence out the window and throws herself wholeheartedly into Adam's kinky games; she doesn't even flinch at Adam's penchant for bondage and erotic asphyxiation. Alice is welcomed by Adam's coterie of friends, and his sister, Deborah (Natasha McElhone), seems to take shine to her. Everything's hunky dory until after Alice weds her S&M stud, when a journalist contacts her with information about a woman who accused Adam of rape. Instead of trusting her tall, dark and arousing mate, Alice begins snooping for reassurance. Adam soon senses a shift in the winds of loyalty. Alice first discovers that one of the dead climbers was Adam's lover, and then learns that Adam had an affair with a married woman who was reported missing eight months ago. Is it any wonder Alice runs out of the apartment in her undies and blabs her unfounded suspicions to skeptical cops? But she makes the mistake of confiding in Deborah who, after all, is unusually close to Adam. Alice eventually risks her life to find out whether her hubby is a killer or just a kinky dominator whose had some bad luck in love. Why, you might ask, is master director Chen Kaige wasting his time on such trashy material? Clearly ill at ease in his English language debut, Kaige can't hide the fact that this scenario is cribbed from old Hollywood thrillers like UNDERCURRENT (1946) and there aren't enough steamy sex scenes in the world to make it seem fresh. leave a comment --Robert Pardi

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