Monday, October 22, 2012

Leaves a Lot to Be Desired: "Woman of Desire" (1994)

Bo Derek, who made some of the worst films of the 1980's (directed by her husband), decided to go out on her own with this film noir wannabe.

A nude Jack (Jeff Fahey) is found washed up on the beach at about the same time Christina (Bo Derek) is at the hospital, telling of a night of rape and murder. According to Christina, Jack was captaining Ted's (Steven Bauer) yacht when the two fought. Jack shot Ted and tossed him overboard, and his body is missing. Jack raped Christina, and a storm tossed Jack and Christina overboard. Things don't look good for Jack.

The smartest thing Jack does in the entire film is call his old lawyer friend Walter (Robert Mitchum). Walter goes "Matlock" on the cast, investigating Christina's bed hopping past while trying to get the truth out of a reluctant Jack. Jack is still in love with Christina, who has taken up with Ted's conveniently identical twin brother Jonathan (also Steven Bauer), and Jack keeps believing he and Christina will be together. Without a body or murder weapon, the truth is finally able to come out at an eventful preliminary hearing.

While Bo Derek is very easy on the eyes, her acting capabilities are subpar to say the least. Christina is the title character, a woman of desire any man would kill for. Instead, Derek gives her no edge, she's just a blank with perky bosoms. This major flaw hurts the character of Jack. Instead of being obsessed and showing poor judgement when it comes to Christina, Jack comes off as a flaky idiot. A film's hero should not be a flaky idiot unless the film is a comedy, or "Body Heat."

Mitchum comes off best, his Walter character is smart, and he gets just as frustrated with Jack as the viewer does. As a matter of fact, the film did have me interested until almost half way through, when I got tired of being patronized by the screenplay. Ginty's direction is adequate, and the South African locations are different, but after Jack's fourth or fifth blue tinged flashback to the fatal night, and yet another shot of Derek's nude body, I just wanted the predictable conclusion to proceed.

The film makers play cute with the characters' last names, giving them the same monikers as famous film directors. This only reminds you that better films are out there, and "Woman of Desire" leaves you wanting to watch one of those instead. (* *) out of five stars.