SEVEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE is an admirable outlier - as Nica Noelle of Sweet Sinner insists on creating porn features her way in defiance of general audience tastes and industry trends. This riff on Billy Wilder's classic film THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH is entertaining both as Adult entertainment and also for its empathetic characterizations.
Of Wilder's many Hollywood classics I've already seen XXX features based on his DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SOME LIKE IT HOT and STALAG 17. If Nica decides to make more Sinema movies, I would suggest adapting WIlder's THE APARTMENT and AVANTI.
I was primed for SEVEN having just watched its stars well-paired in Paul Thomas's L'AVOCATE shot around the same time. Mark Wood plays the Walter Mitty styled husband, seen humping voluptuous wife Raylene in the opening sex segment. She's leaving for six weeks to visit her family, and it's obvious that while the cat's away her mousy husband will play.
Film (shot on HDV) diverts from Sweet Sinner formula by including some soft-core segments involving a non-sex cast, as home alone Mark fantasizes his wife still there criticizing him. Talking out loud (his habit) he imagines himself a ladies' man. He fantasizes that his voluptuous secretary Victoria (Missy Martinez) tries to seduce him at work, opening up her blouse to reveal the sexy bra beneath. That's as far as it goes, but I for one really enjoyed some sex tease that doesn't automatically lead to explicit sex (or any sex at all) in a XXX feature.
His next fantasy involves lovely Alanah Rae as Nurse Bambi, coming on to him strong when he's in the hospital. This brief segment has even less skin than Missy's.
A new neighbor arrives: Lily LaBeau in the Marilyn Monroe role is not given a character name by Nica following the same practice of the Wilder movie (that sets up a wonderful joke later in the film). She's subletting the apartment upstairs from Mark, who is named Mark Ewell here as an in-joke tribute to the great Tom Ewell, star of Wilder's film.
She has sex with gal pal April O'Neil as voyeur Ewell peeps through the window. Lily is in town to attend auditions in her quest to become an actress. She is a striking beauty who refreshingly does not attempt to look or act like Marilyn, creating an empathetic character of her own.
Ewell fantasizes a bedraggled Lily arriving at his door, having fought off a lascivious producer at an audition, conking him over the head with his Oscar statuette (this is related verbally, not staged). Back to reality, he makes a pass at Lily next day and is rejected.
Scene shifts to Raylene on vacation, and it turns out she's not there to visit family but rather to make whoopee with the grown-up kid she used to baby sit for, Tyler (Rocco Reed). Their overlong sex scene is stimulating but has the unfortunate distraction of too many tattoos, particularly on Raylene. This switch, of the wife and not the husband who is acting on the marital Itch, is quite effective.
A flood in her apartment when Lily leaves the bath water running has Ewell to the rescue, offering her to bathe in his abode. A fantastically low-budget homage to Marilyn's iconic subway-windblown skirt scene is staged as Ewell brings out fans in his no-air-conditioning apartment. Lily leans over one and her white skirt balloons up revealing a delightful split-beaver rear-view of her that while not as shocking is far better soft-core tease than Sharon Stone's equally iconic legs uncrossing beaver shot in BASIC INSTINCT.
Mark receives a letter from his wife announcing she's not returning home but has left him permanently to live with Tyler. Lily's packed her bags and is waiting for a taxi at Mark's street-level apartment, having flunked her auditions and unwilling to stay in town for a future that might entail working in strip clubs or, perish the thought, acting in Adult Films!
She sympathizes with Mark's plight and the movie ends with a satisfying sex scene. While naturalistic it has several unusual elements of note: Mark cums inside her instead of a money shot, noted by a cream pie closeup subtly edited in later, and then after a deep throat they hump a second time in spoon position with Wood delivering on her belly for Adult's version of a happy ending.
Film's artistic success but apparent lack of audience acceptance (IMDb had no reviews and no ratings for it 3 years later till I came along) brings up several issues. Commercial considerations are all important in porn. For distributor Mile High, making these features compared to Nica/James Avalon's usual product is likely judged not worth the trouble: compare SEVEN's 5-day shooting schedule to the 2-day shoot that is SS's norm.
Worse yet, they have to compete with the rest of the porn industry, starting with amateur crap which has flooded the internet. For professional porn, two poles have developed: gonzo junk made as quickly and cheaply as possible with popular star names to sell it, vs. lavish, empty and often pretentious super-productions like special-effects-laden PIRATES and more recently Michael Ninn's take on 300 titled THE FOUR (each sold in filler-laden 4-DVD sets at steep prices not unlike mainstream's 3-D and IMAX ticket-price inflation).
As a solipsist, I remain interested in finding quality amidst the dross of explicit Adult entertainment, and plan to review on IMDb ALL of the Sweet Sinner/Sinema features currently in print, for the record.
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