The Principles of Lust (2003)
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I was stunned at how bad this film is.
The acting except for Marc Warren and Sienna Guillory is awful. Alec Newman stares madly into space a lot of the time. The supporting cast are so wooden that they can't possibly be professional actors.
Guillory and Newman aren't helped by the fact their characters are selfish, boring and unlikeable.
Marc Warren alone has an interesting character and his performance is all that makes it watchable. The film does at least pick up some energy when he is screen. When he's not the rest of the cast mope around in boredom.
The script is dull. Characters sit in the bath or smoke joints while talking about living life to the full.
The orgy scene is laughable with one character spouting pretentious rubbish about exploring the darker side while wearing a dog collar.
I stuck with this, like I was watching a car crash to see how bad it would get. And when it thankfully finished I was left with a feeling of "So What?".
Its a film that desperately wants to shock with it scenes of explicit sex and violence against children but to be honest is tedious and reminds me of the kind of thing Sixth formers would make to upset their parents.
The fact this film was backed when so many others are struggling to find finance is another nail in the coffin of the British film Industry.
Then there's the "introspective shot" which features the main character staring into space for a good minute. How pretentious can it get without moving anywhere? This has been done many times and also by wannabe film makers and students who don't know what else to do.
Gratuitous shots which were there for no reason, ordinary choices and silly angles, OK, is that all? Nothing new or inspiring, it's total cheese. Better watch something else I think. Also as for the couple, do they really want us to believe that She would go out with him? That's totally implausible! The film irritated me as there is so much out there to watch and this was just a waste of time. This is a Slice of Life that is more uninteresting than real life.
All the acting is wooden. But Marc Warren is Excellent in Hustle and he seems to shine in all he does so I wonder who's fault it is with this film? Marc Warren's character was interesting but he needed a bit more. Sienna is okay but just a bit too wooden. Newman is a fine actor but I didn't like his character and I think he was badly cast also, I just didn't care this time.
The orgy scene is derisory. Enough said.
When the film finished I was left with a feeling of 'So What?'. Why oh Why make boring films trash. Is it because someone thought they could and didn't stop to think if they should? This film is uncreative and badly directed, if there was any direction involved that is. The best thing was the music track at the end which I did like, but that didn't make up for the rubbish TV-trash film.
All the male characters that were supposed to be "cool" laughably sported identical black leather jackets and stubble, looking every bit like middle class drop outs, but getting their kicks from hanging around illegal bare knuckle fights... the scenes in which the naughty posh boys were knocking about with psychotic hard-men bottling each other in a strip bar were extremely cringe-worthy and utterly unbelievable.
Also did anyone notice how much Marc Warren looked like Eddie Izzard in the orgy scene with that diamanté dog collar?! That chuckle was the only thing I enjoyed about the whole film.
Oh - the kid was an excellent actor too - really good.
Other than that it was RUBBISH!
This should have been a one-hour special on BBC1, but they wouldn't have got the hard-core porn in. Not really worth the admission price. Filmfour at its worst.
For those who have asked the question, Ms. Woolcock replies that the bare-knuckle children show that Billy is always moving on to a higher level of outrageousness.
"The Principles of Lust" is a story about Paul, a struggling writer who discovers a great gal and her son - the instant family. But a chance meeting with Billy has provided him with an avenue into an extreme, morally ambiguous world. For the writer in him (or simply for the fact he is a bored human) this indulgent world appeals to him, causing conflict in his "normal" boring life.
A number of reasons why this film fails is given in other reviews, but I wonder if they have simply missed the point? To me, the movie explores two paths in life many of us can have access to, the more common (but boring and responsible) family life, or the "opposite" world of indulgence and chaos that has excitement at every turn. Paul must decide what he wants, what he values the most, before the chaos of one life consumes him whole and he loses any chance of getting back to "normality".
I think the movie does a pretty good job exploring this theme through Paul's character. The movie also does a good job with Billy - rather than being the Devil as some have suggested, I think there is much more decency in the guy than is given credit for, even though he is more than a little lost and crazy.
It would have been uncomfortable watching this in a movie theatre, but at home you can ponder the more graphic scenes without worrying what others think of you. If you allow this movie to be an exploration of a theme (visual literature) rather than the more mundane "visual entertainment", it becomes better than what some viewers have given it credit for.
So from my perspective, bravo to Penny Woolcock for making this film, which inevitably will polarise its audience - but remember its nod to Fight Club, and the fact that it is adapted from a novel by Tim Cooke. It's hard to imagine a feistier adaptation than this.