Of course, not everyone agrees on this assessment. Many a porn critic, including the late and usually great Jim Holliday, has taken the movie to task for lacking the type of sex scenes they assume genre fans want. As my adult film viewing habit nears the quarter century mark, I for one can assure them they're wrong.
One of the reasons I've always enjoyed porno, and I'm sure quite a few others do as well, is the chance of witnessing a moment of truth, when a performer's professional detachment crumbles and the audience is allowed a brief glimpse at the real person underneath. These moments can happen by accident, as is often the case in adult cinema where budgets and production schedules don't always allow re-shooting these "mistakes", or they can be the result of a carefully orchestrated, semi-documentary approach such as here with the line between what is real and what is artistic artifice becoming hard to distinguish.
Derek may display a directorial verve he never managed or bothered to equal in later film-making endeavors (GHOSTS CAN'T DO IT, anyone ?) ; he also had the good fortune to work with a small (just five people) yet extremely talented cast bringing emotional resonance and compassion to their beautifully written parts. As for the film's detractors, perhaps they should just learn to "think outside the box" a bit more.
Two couples decide to spend a weekend together on an island off the California coast with spouse swapping the ultimate goal. Sensitive Charlie (superstar Annette Haven) seems somewhat apprehensive about the whole deal but is gently nudged to participate by husband Steve (Wade Nichols, star of Armand Weston's TAKE OFF). Helicopter pilot Mark (veteran performer Eric Edwards) and especially his fun-loving wife Lynn (adorable Lesllie Bovee) are the quintessential mirror image free spirits who'll loosen them up, with some unexpected results. Looking for lust, everyone ends up finding love instead.
Once the plot is set up, the characters have this constant intimacy that doesn't just start and stop with the sex scenes like too much porn has accustomed us to. There's kissing, caressing, laughter as well as tears. These people are genuinely making love to one another, in character, and when both women achieve very real-looking, non-porno type orgasms as a result of the tenderest group action you've ever witnessed it blurs the borders between performance and reality. Whichever of the two it turns out to be, it's certainly one hell of a turn-on.
Cinematography by Derek himself supplies some of the most breathtakingly beautiful imagery ever captured in erotica, especially the close-ups of Haven's flustered face as she reaches climax. Even the quiet natural beauty of the island can't compete with that ! Both female and male bodies are glorified in rich, glowing colors. A judicious use of close-ups draws attention to a gaze, a touch, an emotional snapshot that hints at something deeper. Little things like Wade Nichols' soulful glances or Lesllie Bovee's lopsided smiles, so seemingly unforced, actually manage to move an old cynic like myself.
Single drawback perhaps, in a stylistic sense, is the inclusion of several fantasy sequences dreamed up by Haven and involving the likes of Paul Thomas and Blair Harris, scenes that are perfectly fine for what they are but interrupt the natural flow of the narrative. Otherwise,rare gems such as LOVE YOU make up for all the mediocrity I've endured over the years. Stay in love, it's the only place to be...