Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Love Crimes (1992)

"I love your eyebrows and little slender wrists. I love your
little daddy long legs."---the sadist sizes up Ms. Sean Young

Sean Young plays a District Attorney in a performance that, at times, seems to be channelling Joan Crawford. Unfortunately, besides thick eyebrows, these two actresses have very little in common---and herein lies the main problem with Love Crimes. This lead role requires a transformation from assertive, shoulder pad wearing career woman into a male-dominated submissive, and Sean Young misses the mark on the first part of this equation. But don't let this stop you from watching this film, as it offers many smutty delights.

"Maybe what you need in this case is not clear cut evidence
of rape but a proof of perversity."---advice given to Dana Greenway

Dana Greenway (Young) has latched onto a case following a man (Patrick Bergin) who pretends to be a famous fashion photographer, David Hanover, conning women into posing nude for his camera. The problem with the case is that he never clearly commits a crime larger than theft, as he carefully manages to break down the women's will into submitting to his commands. And, as Dana's partner comments while looking at some of the photos in evidence, "They're enjoying the hell out of themselves." Dana is drawn to the man---who never reveals his real name---in an investigation based more on self-discovery than justice.

"David Hanover" picking up a new model.

There is a breaking point in this film where it goes from a rather typical cat and mouse legal thriller into psycho-sexual lunacy. Dana, realizing that her mannish (actually boyish) appearance is giving her away in her pursuit, decides to have a makeover. Amidst blue-tinted flashbacks to a traumatic childhood incident of witnessing her father with a strange woman, Dana starts caking on the makeup till she looks like the slut. Recognizing what she's turning herself into, she smears the makeup off.

It is readily apparent that Dana is preparing herself to be bait for Hanover, with a little too much gusto. She finds Hanover through her new school teacher persona without too much difficulty, and we see how he slowly breaks down her personal space (giving her a supposed palm reading) then taking on her headspace. "We're not strangers, it's only that we just met," his cheesy line is actually entirely correct.

"What were you afraid I'd do? What were you afraid
I wouldn't do?"

But you can't deceive a con man for long. When Hanover discovers who Dana really is, out in his rented country getaway, the situation turns into a sort of S&M summer camp. Through trapping her in a closet, handcuffing, stripping, and, in an unforgettably prolonged scene, spanking her, Dana learns to love her master. Her frigid, blue-tinted neuroses give way to a warmly-toned fantasy of making love to Hanover:

As if their psychic connection was more satisfying than any earthbound coupling, Dana and David never consummate their relationship. After parting ways (well, they don't just separate, but for the sake of brevity I'll move along...), David gets back to his old tricks, but making a wealthy, older woman act like a horse as he smacks her with a riding crop just isn't the same as before. Dana, likewise, has holed up in her apartment, her work no longer meaningful. The film ends like most thrillers end, but Love Crimes is actually a convincing, uncomfortably poignant story of star-crossed lovers.

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