Apr 4, 2019

Private Lies (2000)

Well, here we go again, folks.  Another erotic thriller - perhaps the least respected genre ever.  The late eighties brought them on (along with Silk Stalkings, basically the erotic thriller made for TV), and they were a mainstay for late-night cable - especially "Skinamax".  The plots were all very contrived and precious little differed from one movie to another - always a murder, inheritances, adultery, etc. featuring sex scenes with terrible background music (new jazz or hair-metal guitar noodling).

Despite their reputation, I find them enjoyable.  The T&A factor is rarely lacking, and they provide the same earnest cheesiness you find in old-school exploitation films.  But the genre never quite garnered a cult following (yet); there are no zombies, vampires or horror elements, and the subject matter always is pretty "meh", offering little in the way of the oddball creativity you might find in a Russ Meyer, Jesús Franco or Ed Wood Jr. flick.  So, with precious little to latch onto, I can understand their current low-tier status.  But they're day is coming, so let's have a look at an example - complete with generic forgettable title, a trademark of the genre.

The film begins with a police standoff, with all the officers' guns pointed at Cynthia.  So, what led to this mess?  Let's go back in time...

Cynthia is the wife of a rich and famous fashion designer.  He's a complete loser, and no one really understands that the secret to his success is his wife, who has all the creativity and does all the hard work.

She's played by Elizabeth Pires.  Other than a TV movie which hasn't been released yet, this is her only IMDb credit.  This is pretty remarkable considering she has a very unique, yet beautiful look.  Plus, she's none too shy - appearing naked and in sex scenes throughout this film.

Cynthia has a pretty unhappy marriage to Thomas (Koury Allen). He takes her for granted and treats her like garbage; plus, he cheats on her and she knows it.

Regardless of Thomas' bad behavior, Cynthia does her duty as a wife and lets him bang her from behind.

It's a pretty unrealistic sex scene, even by late night cable standards.  It often looks like Elizabeth Pires is smiling, as if she's about to bust out laughing.  Plus, the way she's positioned, I don't see how penetration could even be taking place.  Perhaps this is an indication as to why Pires never went on to work in another film.

Cynthia visits Gary (Michael Taylor), a dude she's been having an affair with.  She tells him she doesn't want to see him anymore.  She's got to work on her marriage.

Perhaps inspired by her super short skirt, Gary puts on a compelling argument for one last roll in the hay.

 ... Or roll on the kitchen counter.  I hope Gary wipes things down before chopping vegetables on that tile.  [I much prefer granite counter-tops to tile; no grout to clean.  I'm sure wiping up after kitchen sex in Busty Housewives of Beverly Hills was much easier.]

Before leaving, Cynthia makes a point to insist that this was their last screw.  Gary's like "sure, whatever."

Cynthia takes a bath to ponder her lot in life.  I love how bathtub scenes always have lots of candles in these erotic thrillers.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy having an affair with one of the models, Talia (Lauren Collins).

This film is pretty good about not letting five minutes slip by without a sex scene.  At least actress Lauren Collins can have sex with this guy without looking likes she's going to fall out laughing.

Cynthia meets Drew (Tim Holmes), a contractor hired by Thomas to build their guest house.  There is an instant attraction between the two.

This actor, Tim Holmes, cracked me up.  In an effort to appear studly and "dark", he basically whispers his lines.  Not only that, he mispronounces words and sometimes doesn't even bother to finish his sentence - just letting it end in an incomprehensible mumble.  Looking at IMDb, it looks like Holmes has found some success, so maybe he has upped his acting game since.

 And of course, Cynthia and Drew have sex.

 Cynthia takes a shower... and we get to watch the whole process, even getting shampoo from a tube.  Take note of the requisite candles.

Thomas responds to a call from Gary that there's been a break-in at the office.  When he arrives, he's met with Drew who blows his ass away.

Drew tells Cynthia what he's done.  She threatens to go to the police, but he says he'll implicate her as well. He used her gun which has her fingerprints.  Plus, she recently took out a huge insurance policy on Thomas, so it looks really bad for her.  So, unless she gives him $100K, he takes her down with him.

A couple homicide detectives, Connie Croy and Nick Cuervo (Rae Ritke and Seamos Duke) question the two suspects, Cynthia and Gary.

 Drew, already drunk on the money he's about to get, lures Talia in with promises of great fortune.

The director of this picture, Ellyn Michaels, should have paid more attention to the expressions his actresses were giving during the sex scene.  Lauren Collins looks like she's holding in hysterical laughter as well.

 Gary is paid a visit from his ex-wife, Donna (Brandy Davis).

 This, naturally, means more sex.  

Gary, apparently just finished pounding Donna, is back to pounding Cynthia in the tub.  Candles in full effect.

What's this, Donna is now getting banged by Drew?  This is getting ridiculous.  And, yes, once again we have an actress awkwardly smiling and ready to laugh whilst getting rammed from behind.

 Donna hears Gary arriving home early.  They quickly hide behind the bed.

 Hidden on the other side of the bed, they watch as Gary uses his cool new cordless phone to call Cynthia.  Check out Gary's awesome abstract wall art.

 Drew is ready to waste Gary, but Gary leaves without ever noticing them.

But Gary's time is up.  He comes to rescue Cynthia and shot by Drew.  Then, Cynthia shoots Drew, which leads to the police stand-off scene we saw at the beginning of the movie.

But there's a final twist.  Cynthia and Donna have planned this all along.  They jump into a car, ready to enjoy their husband's fortunes and life insurance paycheck.  THE END

This was better than your average erotic thriller; in terms of quantity and quality of sex scenes, this film stands tall.  The three actresses, Elizabeth Pires, Lauren Collins and Brandy Davis are all smoking hot and frequently getting naked and mounted.  Pires, a one hit wonder, does an amazing job of providing gobs of nudity and sex scenes throughout - like clockwork, doing a short scene, then getting pounded, doing a short scene, then getting pounded, repeat.

It was pretty amusing to see all the actresses smiling and holding in laughter at each sex scene.  I'm sure this was just the awkwardness of the moment, since the director didn't make things comfortable on the set.  Or Michaels just didn't care enough to suggest that they maybe shouldn't look like they're about to explode with hysterical giggling.


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