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Vera is a femme fatale for the 21st century; a beautiful, capricious young woman living in New York whom begins exploring the limits of her sexual and intellectual power. She picks up men on the street and has sex with them in her apartment. She also videotapes a sexual romp with a female lover, and has sexually frank discussions with her potential employer. As the daughter of wealthy, indulgent parents, Vera seems to be improvising her way through the beginning of her life as an adult. Her boyfriend, Ford, is a fast-talking hustler prepared to do anything to make a buck. Aware of Vera's promiscuity, Ford sees a chance to make big money when he meets an aging Italian media mogul, named Count Tommaso, who is enamored of Vera because of her sexuality, her intelligence, and what he perceives as her naiveté. Ford cooks up an idea to pimp Vera out to the Count for $100,000, easy money, if he can only talk Vera into it. Incredibly, she agrees. Everything appears to be going even better than... Written by
The painting that Vera is painting in her apartment early in the film is immediately a different painting when the camera changes angle, and then a few scenes later the painting reverts to its original form. See more »
[on his cellphone]
Yeah, but is it lucrative? Yeah, you gotta consider... You gotta always consider the cost-path ratio. Ask Yuri. Hold on a second... Hello?... Yo, wassup?
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This movie got a lot of undeserved juice from Roger Ebert's four-star review, and it's just awful. I've liked some of Toback's other work, particularly "Fingers", but this thing feels like a really boring home movie on autopilot. It's purportedly about the non-adventures of this bratty little rich girl (Neve Campbell) and her no-account boyfriend (Fred Weller) and, ultimately, their scheme to seduce a rich Italian count (Dominic Chianese) out of some major money. But it takes some time to get to this plot point, and up till then, the movie just meanders in a cinema-verite sort of way that makes it seem like Toback can use it as an excuse for the picture being a dud. It's like he's saying, "Well, whatever we shot, we shot. I can't be held responsible for the randomness of events."
The movie goes from Neve Campbell meeting one person on the street to another in what I'm sure Toback would insist was "character development", but it's done in such a way that it all rings false. It's scripted without being scripted. In another words, it's contrived. When Neve's college professor (played by Toback) explains what he thinks is going on with Neve and her head games, you can almost hear the gears locking in the background. It might be the most mechanical ad-libbed sequence in history.
Toback's use of celebrity here is also peculiar. The Mike Tyson cameo is pretty funny; he actually gives the movie a momentary spark. But when Toback has Neve recognizing a bit actress like Lori Singer on the street like she's Jane Fonda, I wonder what world he's living in. This whole "expository" part feels like padding, like Toback didn't have enough legit material to go around. Then, when the action shifts to the "scheme" in the final twenty minutes, it's good - it's the best part of the film. But the effect is a little jarring. Toback goes from a lazy, dawdling atmosphere to a sequence that's scripted tighter than Abbott & Costello's Who's on First, and it just doesn't work. The two forms don't really mesh, and you get the feeling Toback only had twenty good minutes in him to begin with - the rest is like a warm-up, like running in place to get the circulation going. And I hate to sound like an old prude (which I'm far from being), but the nude shower scene is an absolute cheap shot; Neve Campbell is just being exploited here. It has nothing to do with her character or anything else; it's completely gratuitous. But I guess anything goes when you have no material. Minus credits, this thing is barely over an hour and fifteen minutes. It hardly seems worth being made.
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