Synopsis: Drop dead gorgeous Jessica Clark (True Blood’s Lilith) and TV icon Barbara Niven co-star in this glossy, sexy and fun romantic drama from writer-director Nicole Conn (Elena Undone, Claire of the Moon). When straight and married Rebecca (Niven) seeks out the sexual services of high-priced call girl Paris (Clark) she isn’t expecting to fall in love.
A Perfect Ending is filled to the brink with aching desire, and the sexual chemistry between Niven and Clark is off the charts. The cast also boasts Morgan Fairchild, John Heard, Rebecca Staab and a cameo from celesbian actress/therapist Cathy DeBuono.
A Perfect Ending 6.75
eyelights: its artistic touches. its message about body image.
eyesores: the muddled storytelling. the unnaturalistic performances.
“I’m going to enjoy every last moment.”
Love stories are a dime a dozen. But they’re simply not all equal. On the one extreme you get ‘When Harry Met Sally‘, and on the other you’ll find ‘The Ugly Truth’. Translating the sparks between two people to the silver screen is not an easy proposition: it requires chemistry between its key players, a great script and a sure directorial hand.
And that’s just for starters.
‘A Perfect Ending’ is an erotic drama by Nicole Conn. Released in 2012, it tells the story of Rebecca, a wealthy housewife seeking passion after years of being anorgasmic. Her lesbian friends suggest that she should hire a call-girl, based on the notion that a woman would know the ‘service manual” best. This is how Rebecca meets Paris.
It’s not a match made in heaven: it takes many failed appointment before anything happens.
First time: She asks for someone more her age, but Sylvia, the one who’d been selected by the Madam for the gig, had an emergency and asks Paris to fill in for her instead. Rebecca is not pleased and refuses.
Second time: She reconsiders and wants to see Paris again. But, not knowing about the original switcheroo, she asks for the same woman as last time. This time she gets Sylvia. She’s not amused.
Third time: She finally gets to see Paris again. But now she gets cold feet and takes off after paying. However, she inadvertently leaves her wedding ring behind.
Fourth time: Paris sets up another rendez-vous to give the ring back. They kiss, but Rebecca once again freaks out and runs.
Fifth time: Seduction, finally! It’s a bit awkward at first, but it develops into a really lengthy lovemaking scene.
Sixth time, …etc.: They fall in love.
Conn tries to spice up the picture by giving Rebecca complex family dynamics: Her daughter is not her spouse’s, who considers only his two sons “blood”. He’s also trying to sidestep the bankruptcy of the family business and signs away much of it to her. Meanwhile, he’s arranged for the eldest to marry into a wealthy family, though he’s not in love.
To make matters worse, we find out that the spouse once got drunk and (at the very least!) sexually harassed Rebecca’s daughter. Maybe more. This has lead to some awkwardness between the daughter and the mother, who is wracked with guilt. She’s been drinking, and she drinks far too regularly, always turning to the bottle for liquid courage.
She needs a lot of courage.
You see, she’s also dying. We don’t know of what, but she dies. The problem is that this is so ineptly established that we first think she’s dying, then we think she’s been consulting doctors for her anorgasmia, then we think that her spouse is dying, and then we finally get the confirmation that it’s her. Was this intentional? Or poor red herrings?
Either way, it’s a muddled mess.
For some reason the storytelling is so incoherent that we frequently don’t know what’s going on: for example, after signing some papers, she is told by her financial advisor that she’s got balls of steel. But we don’t understand why; it’s to be assumed that she’s taking control of the company. It’s only in the wrap-up, after her death, that it makes sense.
Is it the director’s fault, or the editor’s? I don’t know. But the editing is also very sloppy: different takes are cut together even though they don’t blend at all (i.e. the actors are in different poses, or there are significant changes in the composition). It’s all so jarring that it’s really difficult staying focused on, or even immersed in, the picture.
If only the performances were strong enough to make up for it, but they really aren’t: everyone comes off as second-tier, with perhaps the only exception being Morgan Fairchild in a small part as the Madam; she has little to do but does it well. The rest deliver their lines adequately but never in a naturalesque way that emulates reality.
It does, however, have an artistic quality to it that was very pleasing: Paris is an artist, and her pointillism is frequently used throughout to express her emotional state or simply to enliven the picture. There’s also the frequent use of quick cuts to beautifully-shot images (dolls, glass, bottle, …etc.) to transition between bits. I liked that.
I also liked how Conn addressed aging, first with the notable age differences between the two leads (which doesn’t phase Paris one bit, but rattles Rebecca at first) and also by having the pair discuss Rebecca’s unhappiness with her experienced body (ex: the changes provoked by childbirth, the implants she got to please her spouse, …etc.).
But it wasn’t really enough to salvage the picture for me: ‘A Perfect Ending’ is far too messy for me to sit back and enjoy. There are some really good elements to it, but they’re delivered in a less than meticulous fashion that can be irritating. There are sweeping, pitch-perfect love stories out there., and this could have been one of them.
In the end, sadly, it’s not.
Date of viewing: March 25, 2016