It's no surprise that Ken Russell's ambitious psychosexual drama "Crimes of Passion" was not well received upon its initial release back in 1984. But to be fair, based on the heavy edits required to achieve an 'R' rating, it's hard to imagine the film having the same sort of effect as the un-rated director's cut. Explicitness is key to a film of this nature -- necessary for provoking audience reaction, but also for providing a raw layer of intensity to which the viewer can connect with. For example, the explicit dialogue in the bedroom confessional scene between Bobby & Amy Grady (equally fine performances from John Laughlin and Annie Potts) effectively captures the real disconnect present within so many relationships. On one hand there's a need and/or desire for sex as a means of fulfillment and expression of love, but on the other hand there are responsibilities associated with family life that may impede that desire, or in the case of the character of Amy Grady, a general lack of sexual desire is just part of her persona. Meanwhile this leaves her husband Bobby feeling discontented. The film asks then, just how important is sex? Is it an essential part of being happy? In stark contrast to the dynamic between Bobby & Amy Grady, is the character of China Blue/Joanna Crane -- played with absolute gusto by Kathleen Turner (giving one of the finest performances of her career). While her motives remain for the most part unclear, the character of China Blue appears to be using sex as a control mechanism. But what is it that she is trying to control? Through the use of some fairly explicit sex scenes it seems apparent that she enjoys the sex itself while also enjoying the anonymity and emotional disconnect involved with being a girl for hire. But is this feeling the result of her actual disdain for having that emotional connection, or is it a result of having been scarred by a past relationship? The power play argument is reinforced by seeing the Joanna Crane side of the character -- a highly successful undergarment designer with a cool car and a great apartment; someone who seems to have it all, yet wants to take her power one step further. This theory is drawn into question (of course!) when her path crosses with Bobby Grady; someone who seems to be able to offer her the entire package she secretly longs for. To complicate things further, there's the character of Rev. Peter Shayne (an Oscar worthy performance from Anthony Perkins); a man so distraught and shamed by his own inner demons that he seeks his own redemption through the course of offering to redeem China Blue. Throw in an enjoyably hypnotic yet cheesy & dated synthesizer score, and the usual striking visual imagery and religious allegory that Ken Russell is well known for, and the result is a thought provoking and highly entertaining film. Best recommended to those who don't mind being left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end, or who aren't easily offended an 8/10, this film is destined to become a major classic and deserves repeated viewings.
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