'Paris, France' tries to be dangerous and erotic, but it's all talk

June 24, 1994|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

How are you going to keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen "Paris, France?"

The answer: easy, 'cause they'll be sleeping so hard they won't notice where you put 'em.

The second half of the Charles's "naughty" double bill (after Roman Polanski's "Bitter Moon") is an odd little number titled "Paris, France," about a circle of Seattle intellectuals unhinged by the arrival of an authentic primitive in their midst, and put in contact with their darker erotic selves.

Is sex dreary? Yes, if you do it wrong.

The movie is too full of talk, none of it stimulating, and sex, all of it simulated.

It centers on Lucy (Leslie Hope), an avant-garde novelist suffering intense artistic blockage; we are given to understand that her lack of creative energy is linked to her lack of sexual energy in her marriage with Michael (Victor Ertmanis), an avant-garde editor who with his partner William (Dan Lett) publishes a small line of experimental fiction.

This smug little world is upset when the openly gay William introduces them to Sloan (Peter Outerbridge), his new discovery, an ex-boxer who is obsessed with sexual violence and clearly yearns to be a literary outlaw in the Jean Genet category. Sloan, at least according to the movie, exudes a miasma of rough sex, and it cuts through both Lucy and William's defenses.

For Lucy, Sloan carries with him the memory of Minter, a figure of commanding sexual charisma who inspired her first novel and treated her to an erotic voyage into the nether regions of sex that poor Michael has never really been able to muster.

Well, all this leads to a lot of chatter, most of it ironic and brittle, and a lot of you-know-what. The novelty of full-frontal nudity on the part of talented actors soon wears thin and the thing takes forever as it rolls through its permutations.

It must be said that the Canadian actress Hope is not only the best thing in it, but also far too good for it. Lett also brings a vividness to his part; the major disappointment is Outerbridge's Sloan, who needs to be an androgynous Brandoesque beast slouching toward the Space Needle to be born. But he's not: he's just an average Joe, utterly lacking charisma.

"Paris, France"

Starring Leslie Hope and Peter Outerbridge

Directed by Gerard Ciccoritti

Released by Alliance

Unrated

**

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