Now running Penthouse's much anticipated hardcore line under the name "Kelly Holland", Toni English has quietly crafted an impressive body of work for Vivid Video, forever toiling in the shadow of that company's mighty figurehead Paul Thomas. Her brief intermediary stint at industry rival Wicked may ultimately warrant little more than a footnote in dirty movie history, but has spawned at least one mini masterpiece that couples forever on the lookout for equal opportunity adult entertainment should gobble down while it's still hot. LOVE AND WAR has a clever screenplay full of surprisingly witty one-liners and a star cast that knows to handle them, for most part.
Graphic artiste Sophia (beautiful superstar Julia Ann, clearly no longer eclipsed by her erstwhile "Blondage" partner Janine) spends more time counseling her girlfriends in matters of the heart and loins than working on her latest ad campaign. She thinks she has got it made, eagerly awaiting her advertising exec boyfriend David (the ever reliable Randy Spears) to pop the question any time soon, wrongfully assuming that this somehow makes her a relationship expert. Unbeknownst to her, conniving aspiring actress Andie (sweet 'n' sexy Aurora Snow) has designs of her own on the hapless David who gets absolutely no help in this matter from his devil's advocate friend and colleague Eric Masterson in a scene-stealing turn.
English creatively flaunts that "female touch" eagle-eyed experts are always trying to discern and define whenever there's a member of the fairer sex behind the cameras. The sex runs the gamut from the warm and friendly if a smidgen too professional opening encounter between Julia Ann and Spears to the rough 'n' tumble antics (as nasty as the "couples film" format will allow) of scrumptious Felix Vicious and Steve Hatcher, formerly "Jake Williams". Snow and Masterson cover the middle ground, sexually speaking, in a stunning, faux-Andrew Blake fantasy sequence in a white setting flooded with light (kudos to frequently underrated DoP Jake Jacobs), made even better by some really great sex talk. Angular Nicole Sheridan (who played the memorable lead in James Avalon's TABOO 2001) hits the floor running with husband and frequent screen partner Voodoo, their patented chemistry burning as bright as ever, even with the addition of potential fly in the ointment Joelean. While this match-up might provide some of the movie's most salacious thrills, it's also somewhat handicapped by an endlessly looped piece of music that winds up grating on one's nerves like Chinese water torture. A corner-cutting remainder from the director's more budget-conscious days over at Vivid perhaps ? Bringing up the rear as well as saving the best for last is one of the most realistically motivated and genuinely erotic Sapphic scenes in recent memory. Having broken up with Randy and disappointed by a string of disastrous blind dates, Julia Ann turns to her gay best friend Lezley Zen, a smoldering brunette in the Sydnee Steele vein. Zen nervously turns down Julia's request to "experiment" initially, fearing that their crossing of this barrier will ruin a perfectly good friendship. Though she relents eventually, of course, to Julia's kittenish pleading, both actresses remain in character throughout the encounter, each intent on pleasing the other, considerably upping the intensity to astonishing effect. There may indeed be more visually spectacular examples of "all girl" porno to be found (as anything by the late Bruce Seven or his spouse and pupil Bionca will attest), but few can honestly compare when it comes to communicating the warmth and feeling two people regardless of gender can have for one another. Seemingly improvised dialog contrasting Lezley's acute apprehension with Julia's playful resolve provides the icing. A predictable conclusion (saved by Julia's last line which goes to explain the film's title) is rushed in after this but surely cannot diminish the impact this totally charming sleeper should already have had on most deeply satisfied viewers.
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