5.5/10
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Female Perversions (1996)

An ambitious female attorney wallows in excess and meaningless sex with both male and female partners, while dealing with her personal life problems including helping her kleptomaniac sister.

Director:

Susan Streitfeld

Writers:

Louise J. Kaplan (book), Julie Hébert (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tilda Swinton ... Eve Stephens
Amy Madigan ... Maddie Stephens
Karen Sillas ... Renee
Frances Fisher ... Annunciata
Clancy Brown ... John
Laila Robins ... Emma
John Diehl ... Jake Rock
Paulina Porizkova ... Langley Flynn
Dale Shuger Dale Shuger ... Edwina
Sandy Martin ... Trudy
Marcia Cross ... Beth Stephens
John Cassini ... Gas Station Attendant
Shawnee Smith ... Make-Up Salesgirl
Nina Wise Nina Wise ... Lingerie Saleswoman
Judy Jean Berns Judy Jean Berns ... Boutique Saleswoman
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Storyline

Dresses, lipsticks, sex - the "perversions" (and neuroses) of Eve, a young, very successful lawyer. Her days are a tightrope act between extreme eloquence and frosty toughness on the one side, and scaring vulnerability on the other. The climax of her career shall be the possibly forthcoming appointment as a judge, but this step seems to be interrupted by her kleptomaniac sister Mad who is arrested after one of her raids. Eve travels to Mad's town to stand by her in the jail. Their struggle about Mad's illness evokes suppressed conflicts. Eve stays at her sister's flat where she meets a girl who fights with her budding femininity. Written by Frank Wallner <wallnerf@informatik.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's all about power See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense depictions of psychoerotic themes, scenes of strong sexuality and strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 April 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Female Perversions See more »

Filming Locations:

Bakersfield, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$118,114, 9 May 1997

Gross USA:

$883,973, 27 July 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first American role and the first American movie for Tilda Swinton. See more »

Goofs

The boom mic visible in different parts of the movie. In one scene where Maddie is thinking about the past looking at the photograph, and in a second scene at the bathroom where Eve and Maddie take a bath together. See more »

Quotes

Madelyn Stevens: I steal to stop me from killing myself.
See more »


Soundtracks

Fire in the Mist (Annunciata's Dance)
Written and Performed by Johnny Reno
Published by Reno Beat Music/Justice Artists Music Corp. (BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

Not a pornographic film despite the title
21 October 2009 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

The title of this film is dangerously misleading because the film might be thought to be pornographic, and many people who might otherwise find it interesting will not see it. (The contrary is also the case, that all the wrong people will want to watch it because they are titillated by the title. They will also react with violent antipathy, in the wake of their disappointment. The choice of title seems to have been a deliberate act of provocation.) The German title, translated, is 'Fantasies of a Woman', which is rather milder. The film is a feminist essay, and the title is intended to be ironical, the 'female perversions' referred to being those imposed upon women by a conventional male-dominated society, so that for instance being a housewife is regarded as one type of 'female perversion'. It seems somehow natural that the wildly experimental Tilda Swinton would have to be in this film: indeed, how could she say no? How could such a film be made without her? She seems to be everywhere that people and films are pushing the envelope. As usual, she is breathtakingly brilliant. A surprising addition to the cast is Frances Fisher, who made such an impact as Angie, the red-headed waitress in the diner, in the intriguing television series 'Strange Luck' in 1995-6, at about this same time. Here she does some rather unnerving 'exotic dance' routines, which all goes to show something, I'm still trying to decide what, but whatever the reason for this is, she does it very well and one would think she had been a stripper or a showgirl all her life if one did not know she had instead been an actress. Tilda Swinton is electric here as a career gal who is so tense she might snap like a wire stretched too taut. She is about to be made a judge, God help us! (Many judges are crazy or weird anyway, but she would be more so than most, as the film makes all too clear.) Tilda Swinton portrays an extreme neurotic, and 'looking good' is essential to her, so she is always doing and re-doing her lipstick (an insecure woman's last refuge). She is a control freak and insanely superstitious. For instance, if she cannot wear her white suit for an interview with the Governor of California (not Arnie, a fictional one) for a judgeship, because it is 'lucky', she falls apart. Her kleptomaniac sister sees to it that she cannot wear the suit to the interview. Things are pretty tense like this throughout, and there are many fantasy elements to this film written, produced, and directed by women with women for women. I don't believe this film can really be excused by a 'women searching for their identities' justification, and if one approaches it earnestly from that angle (which may have been the earnest intention of the makers, for all I know), it is a failure which verges on parody sometimes, and has pretentious aspects. The merits of the film are different, and concern the intensity of portrayal and the mysterious depths of character revealed, especially of hidden or suppressed motivations. The lesbian aspects of the film are not central, but merely a part of the evolving self-realization of Tilda Swinton's character. I am firmly convinced that men can never understand women and women can never understand men. I first came to realize this in my teens when the novelist Pearl Buck said to me that 'men and women are completely different species and can never hope to understand one another'. That shocked me a lot, I never forgot it, and it has been repeatedly verified. I have now come to the conclusion that Nature has designed things this way. The imperative of Nature is the propagation of the species. If men and women understood each other, that would get in the way of propagation, and many fewer babies would be born. Consequently, evolutionary pressures have seen to it that this can never happen, in order to safeguard the future of the species. That is why men like myself who do not regard women as inferior beings (as many of my gender definitely do) are so intrigued by 'the mystery of women' and interested to see attempts to make films like this one where women contemplate women and try to understand themselves. It is true that there are no admirable characters on offer here, and that they are all pretty horrible people. Nevertheless, this film manages to be fascinating, although it is understandable that it would cause a lot of contradictory reactions, some of them violently opposed to it, and some admiring and appreciative. If we want films to punch us in the ribs instead of putting us to sleep, this one certainly qualifies. This is what is called 'independent film making', and long may it continue.


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