Synopsis: What’s porn got to do with it?
Nora (Annette O’Toole) and Phil (Lyn Vaus) produce spiritual “Politically Correct” erotica… don’t call it “porn”! They do it for the love, not the money. Consequently, they’re broke.
But when a rare footage of a now famous mainstream actress is found buried in their library, the ensuing bidding war threatens to upset the karma of their fragile new age reality.
Will they hold on to their flower child values or cash in for some much needed bread?
Also features Elisabeth Moss (THE WEST WING, GIRL INTERRUPTED) and cameos from adult superstars Kiki Daire, Bridget Powerz, and Randy West.
eyelights: its basic concept. its satire.
eyesores: the performances. the cheapo production.
“We have been called on a powerful journey of transformation…”
‘Temptation’ is a 2003 low budget independent comedy by Kim Caviness and Lyn Vaus. Starring Annette O’Toole, it tells the story of a couple who have been producing new agey pornography for decades and, on the verge of financial ruin, discover that they have outtakes of a popular television star doing lesbian midget sex back before her career took off.
Suddenly, industry people are not merely interested in highlight reels of their films, but a bidding war to get this newfound footage is also in the offing. As ethical as they’ve been their whole career, Nora and Phil are now faced with the temptation of making it rich by selling those outtakes, even though it would destroy the career of an innocent in the process.
‘Temptation’ is satire. It made me think of ‘Best in Show’ in its subtle jabs at the porn industry, celebrity and alternative spirituality and ethics. In fact, had it been made as a mockumentary, it probably would have worked slightly better – because it would have provided more insight into the characters and because it would have justified its low budget.
Frankly, I adore the concept: I like that Nora made her name with just one really popular porn film, retired and then became an ethical porn producer; porn and spirituality are seeming contradictions and this is played up to great effect. I also love how potential massive profits and a dire need of any cash infusion come in to sweep all good intentions aside.
This creates conflict in Nora, in Phil, in their friends, in their family, and between them all – which in turns creates many possible permutations for comedy and satire.
One thing I found very funny were their films clips: they’re super low budgets, with non-actors – and are more about the story and emotions than the sex. So they’re pretty awkward – hilariously so! And there’s so little sex in their porn that, when they try to compile only the juicy bits, they can’t even muster up a full hour out of their whole career!
I also love the character of Nora: I know that this type of new age practitioner exists and I can see how she would stick to her beliefs through the years despite their limited success; if she can change just a few lives, she feels as though it’s been worth it. It’s all about karma, and she believes that doing good in the world is what’s most important.
Annette O’Toole plays the flakiness up a little bit too much, unfortunately, transforming Nora into a caricature. I like O’Toole and I’m happy to see her grace the screen, but I wish she had been slightly more subtle here. Of course, the same could be said for much of the cast, which consists of a multitude of character actors; the material demanded nuance.
But, all told, despite its homemade feel (it was reportedly made on one hundred thousand dollars!), ‘Temptation’ is a picture that mostly succeeds. It could have been done better, yes, but this would have required a better budget to up the production value and to get a more solid cast and crew. Still, it’s a pretty good blueprint of what could have been.
Seriously, though, it would be tempting to remake this on a proper budget.
Date of viewing: June 19, 2016