Monday, 12 December 2016

Retro Review: Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986)

Nine 1/2 Weeks
1986
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger, Margaret Whitton, Christine Baranski 
Genre: Erotic Romantic Drama

Plot: Two strangers, Wall Street trader John and art gallery assistant Elizabeth become involved in a new relationship. What begins as a courtship, though, becomes extremely sexual, as John begins to push for more daring and kinky scenarios, including striptease and bondage. Although their passion is strong, Elizabeth starts to realise that John is not sharing any part of his life, besides sex. She must make a decision about what she wants from their relationship.   







'Sex Scenes Alone Do Not Make For A Compelling Erotic Drama, Which Compelling This Ain't'

Originally shot and produced in 1984, only to be released 2 years later, 9 & a Half Weeks, was written by Adrian Lynne who did Fatal Attraction in 1987, which fared much better than this offering. The film is a difficult one to fathom as it basically deals with a woman, who gets her kicks out of being physically and emotionally abused, whilst being in a relationship with Mickey Rourke's character, John. The pair of them take it in turns, playing mind games on each other, well John towards Elizabeth anyway, with this sadomasochistic fling becoming less erotic and more tawdry. With regards to this aspect, their 'affair' was more about manipulation and controlling the other person, rather than actual feelings of love and lust. This wasn't a love affair, but a relationship based on nothing that was doomed to fail. It certainly doesn't evoke positive qualities to their lifestyle. Behind John's smouldering good looks, lies a perplexing & yet obsessed character. 

Despite being billed as an erotic thriller, it wasn't as erotic as I'd expected it to be, but that also with a drama or thriller; erotic or otherwise, you need much more than just sex and sex scenes to sell a movie. The script has to be sufficient, the characters, or be it characterisations need to be appealing or have something that sells the film, the performances have to be convincing and interesting, that it has to hold your attention span for the duration of the film..... yet 9 & a Half Weeks really falls short in all four of these areas. That, and I found the pacing extremely slow and arduous and the narrative & characters were underdeveloped and lacking in depth. 

There is not much to enjoy in this film, nor recommend - unless you are fascinated by seeing Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger getting it on with each other, yet even in that respect, it comes across as being underwhelming. The sex scenes leave a lot to be desired and neither were they as highly erotic and sensual as the director originally billed it as. The sex scenes between Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin in Sea of Love were far more seductive and steamy than what I saw in this film. I've also seen erotica- ok, don't judge me now!-, steamier love scenes and with more passion in some straight-to-DVD NC-17, R and X rated adult erotic dramas and thrillers than in 9 & a Half Weeks. For all its titillation, dry humping scenes, the scene where John feeds Elizabeth food in her mouth, & being a runaway success on the home video market, this doesn't transcend nearly as well, as the film gradually loses steam and becomes incredibly underwhelming & dreary. Although the chase scene that descends into a fight did liven up proceedings. For a brief while. Unbelievably, given the cult status, it has attained over the years, the plot is still weak with not much going for it. The longer this film went on, the more bored I became that I just didn't care for it. 

9 & a Half Weeks bombed at the box office -yet became a (lukewarm) hit on home video during the mid-1980s to say early 1990s.

Apparently, there is an uncut version of this film with all the uncensored, naughty bits left intact, but the version I watched online was pretty tame on the erotic front, & yet I wasn't and isn't so sure if this is the edited version. 






Final Verdict

Kinky in places, but based on the version that I've watched, that erotic passion was underplayed, timid and it is more a film about taking advantage of innocent people through mental and sexual means, just to fulfil one's desires. Or be it desperations. 9 1/2 Weeks wasn't titillating or enthralling as an erotic thriller/drama; rather it was so baseless that it bored me on several occasions, I'd fast forward it to the good bits. And yet these were few and far between. 

Judging by what I saw was probably- though I'm not sure of - the edited version, 9 1/2 Weeks was more of a yawn fest for me, comprised of 9 1/2 mins or so of sex, 1 or 2 chase scenes and nothing else to it. There is no plot and no story either. 

Given all the talk of it, my expectations were high and thus, yes, assuredly this film, in my eyes anyway, didn't really live up to them. 

Needless to say, you can give me Fatal Attraction over 9 1/2 Weeks any day.



Overall:






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