Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trade-Off (1996)

Theresa Russell seduces Adam Baldwin (who, it turns out, is not
even a Baldwin brother).

An early nineties made-for-Showtime movie with Adam Baldwin may not have the most appeal, but Trade-Off is a gem of an erotic thriller. In debt, falling behind at work, and unhappily married, Tom (Baldwin) meets Jackie (Theresa Russell) by chance one night at a bar. She is worse off---married to an abusive drunk. The two begin meeting in hotel rooms, first sharing their dreams, then Jackie divulges her wish to see her husband dead. She turns herself on by suggesting untimely demises, whispering about industrial accidents, bleeding to death, wrapping a car around a telephone poll. Eventually, she coaxes Tom (or as she lovingly refers to him, Thomas) into playing along with the morbid game. The next day Tom's wife is presumed dead, her car pulled out of the river. Tom must reciprocate Jackie's favor, leading to a scene of a murder so sloppy it is comical. Afterwards, at a confessional booth, Tom realizes he has left his inscribed wedding ring at the scene of the murder!

A plot like this requires a cast of dupes, vixens, sleazeballs, and cynics. Baldwin plays his morally-lax, burnt out businessman with appropriate vacuousness. Russell lets it all out in the sex scenes---biting, licking, seemingly engulfing her new lover. Her affected southern accent only adds to the spectacle. As Tom's rival at work, Pat Skipper deserves accolades for delivery lines such as "I'm succeeding, get used to it" like a true prick. Barry Primus completes this solid cast as a detective chipping away at the case, alternating between coyness and sarcasm.

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