Monthly Archives: March 2016

Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry

WFTB Score: 7/20

The plot: Bored with working at a bank and living with his ailing mum, odd fish Christie Malry takes up an accountancy course and discovers a design for life: whatever debits society takes from him, he will take back in anarchic, disruptive credits. However, social justice is in the eye of the beholder and Christie goes to ever greater lengths to settle his scores.

Like most young men, Christie Malry (Nick Moran) is out for money and sex, though both are hard to find when he’s doing a menial banking job and living with his distracted, cancer-afflicted mother (Shirley Anne Field). To further his career and allay fantasies of going postal at the bank, Christie embarks on a course to learn the principles of double-entry bookkeeping, as invented by Fra Luca Pacioli at the end of the 15th Century, while also getting a new job in Tapper’s sweet factory and meeting cocksure Headlam (Neil Stuke), who becomes a friend of sorts.

Christie hits upon a way of rationalising the perceived injustices of society – or ‘any bastard that gets in your face’, as he puts it – by using bookkeeping to keep a list of debits and credits. However, the credits, such as meeting agreeable butcher Carol (Kate Ashfield), can’t possibly keep up with debits like his wages being taxed or his mother’s death. Christie plans to make society pay in the biggest, most destructive ways imaginable.

Film budgets come in all sizes, from ludicrously small (Benjamin Sniddlegrass) to ludicrously big (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), and Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry (based on a cult novel by B.S. Johnson) noticeably comes at the lower end of the scale. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if it just meant the sets were small and spartan, which they are, and in fact the film does a pretty good job of superimposing London around the action. Unfortunately, the plot requires the staging of explosions in a tax office, on a bus, and (as a childhood flashback) a collision between two trains; and since there was obviously no budget to create any real stunts (even in miniature), the filmmakers have had to do what they can with unsophisticated visual effects. The results are not disastrous, but they are both obvious and jarring.

There are other issues too: the acting is of varying quality, while portions of the script are head-scratchingly daft – a group of alternative-looking drinkers talk about ‘Pansexual chaos’, ‘total media war’ and a ‘living rock’n’roll wall of sound’, whatever one of those is.

The film of Christie Malry adds an entirely new storyline relating to Fra Pacioli (Marcello Mazzarella), his relationship with Leonard da Vinci (Mattia Sbragia) and the artist’s own devotion for his wayward assistant. It’s acted well enough and Sbragia makes us feel da Vinci’s torments as his love is wrenched away from him by the invasion of the French, but they don’t really mesh with Christie’s story or provide an effective backdrop or subtext to his actions. Nor do the inserted references to Princess Diana or War in the Middle East, though the film in places acts as an uncomfortable prophet of future events (if ‘9/11’ stopped this film gaining worldwide distribution, the depiction of a London bus getting blown up must have put off potential broadcasters post-‘7/7’).

Also, Tickell’s movie fails to find an equivalent to Johnson’s wonderfully self-conscious prose. Perhaps the non-linear style (which occasionally recalls Russ Meyer, in a low-key, British way) is a nod, but in general Christie Malry fails to capture any of the novel’s black humour, not least the disproportionality between the meagre credits and the enormous debts society racks up in Christie’s ledger.

For all that, the film does retain a power which is not simply due to the brilliant simplicity of Johnson’s central idea. The novel appeared in 1973, at a time when it would have chimed in nicely with the themes of Taxi Driver; seen as an English Travis Bickle, Malry is a fascinating character, and Moran – while emphasising his simple-mindedness to the full – portrays his alienation and misguided anger to good effect. Shirley Anne Field adds weight as Christie’s mum, while his unconventional relationship with Carol is also played out well, Ashfield making the most of a role which could have been merely window-dressing. She convinces as a woman seeing the good in a strange man until the truth finally emerges, in an unusual climax which – poor effects apart – ramps up the threat and potential horror, then undercuts it completely. Meanwhile, Luke Haines’ soundtrack underpins the action very nicely.

I couldn’t seriously claim that Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry is a success. It’s too cheaply made, and too bitty, to be a particularly satisfactory watching experience. You wonder what many of the scenes are doing in the film, and despair at how some others look. On the other hand, while the novel’s anti-capitalist slant is toned down, there’s still enough going on here to make Christie Malry worth seeking out. Think of it as a budget British take on the themes that made Fight Club great.

Titanic

WFTB Score: 13/20

The plot: Penniless artist Jack Dawson wins a lucky ticket back to America aboard the Titanic; and his luck improves further when he begins an affair with Rose, the desperately lonely fiancée of cold-hearted cad Cal. But just when Jack and Rose pledge their futures to each other, history – in the shape of a massive iceberg – interferes with their plans.

The name Titanic, to most, means an historic tragedy; but to salvager Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) the wreck means little more than a potential goldmine, as he hunts for a precious and highly valuable piece of jewellery called the Heart of the Ocean. He’s thwarted when he finds only a saucy sketch of a young woman wearing the necklace, and his mood isn’t lightened when he gets a phone call from someone claiming to be that woman, eighty-five years on. However, when Rose (Gloria Stuart) arrives she tells a compelling and convincing tale of romance, of being a seemingly privileged, art-loving girl (Kate Winslet) accompanied by a haughty mother (Frances Fisher) and even haughtier fiancé called Cal (Billy Zane), who reveals a nasty jealous streak when Rose’s life is saved by third class passenger Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the two begin to associate.

As Rose starts enjoying herself, living up to Jack’s exhortation to ‘make it count’, the pair begin a tryst under the nose of Cal’s personal assistant Lovejoy (David Warner). However, the reckless demands of White Star’s Bruce Ismay (Jonathan Hyde) to get to New York at top speed, much to the dismay of noble ship designer Thomas Andrews (Victor Garber) and confuddled captain Smith (Bernard Hill), mean that April 15th, 1912 is a day that will live long in the memories of those lucky enough to survive, like the legendary ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) and one – but not both – of our star-crossed couple.

Back in the mists of time when I first saw Titanic at the pictures, I was sympathetic to Cameron’s approach, as writer and director, to the story. Just like Life is Beautiful, the tragedy of the event was too much if you tried to tell everyone’s tales, so it made sense to encapsulate it in a single – if fictional – relationship. Cameron evidently designed Titanic to be as accessible as possible: the framing device, exploring the ship from a modern perspective and explaining why it sank before it happens (so to speak); the love story, rooting the tale in something fundamentally interesting and turning the imminent disaster into an action-packed race against time; the leads, attractive without being ridiculously glamorous (Winslet – and this is a good thing – is what you’d call a ‘healthy girl’). For all the brief titillation offered by Winslet’s nudity, Titanic is a movie for impressionable (don’t make me say ‘tweenage’) girls, sent all a-quiver by Leo’s bright blue eyes and non-threatening charm, and made jealous by Kate’s nice hair and fabulous dresses.

The downside of this simplistic approach is that Cameron can be accused of treating the tragic deaths of 1,500 real-life people as mere extras in a glorified pantomime (you could even argue that Titanic specifically riffs on Aladdin). And the story is flimsy – good-looking bloke catches the eye of someone else’s listless trophy fiancée; they act irresponsibly, have sex, then disaster strikes – just in time, really, because neither has enough about them to sustain the interest of the more demanding viewer. Winslet’s poor little rich girl (her words, not mine) has conflicts, no doubt, but they are brushed aside by the action-based events that follow.

Meanwhile, Jack’s carpe diem approach and rough talents are scant grounds for a love that lasts a lifetime – you’d imagine Rose would have quickly tired of his happy-go-lucky ways when they landed in New York and reality struck, had the iceberg not struck first. The film’s class politics are truly ridiculous, pitting the stuffy, unhappy rich against the vibrant, drinking poor, complete with patronising Oirish idioms: ‘Jaysus, Mary and Joseph!’ exclaims a flame-haired woman, marvelling at Rose’s ballet tricks, in one of many choice pieces of naff dialogue. Others include Brock’s challenge to Rose, during the mostly unlovely modern-day bits: ‘Are you ready to go back to Titanic?’; Jack, of one of his models: ‘A one-legged prostitute – good sense of humour though’; or the inappropriately excitable comments as the ship is about to go down (Rose: ‘Jack! This is where we first met!’; a little later still, Jack helpfully points out ‘This is it!’).

Equally pantomimic is Cal’s relentless pursuit of Rose and/or the Heart of the Ocean, with the rabid assistance of his henchman Lovejoy (Warner seems to enjoy the part). Cowardly bully Cal and his vicious attack dog are thoroughly hissable panto villains, but they take centre stage for too long. Once the iceberg hits and it becomes clear that every passenger will be affected, the film surely has bigger fish to fry; and while the increasingly waterborne stunts have their drama – plus the welcome humour of Winslet’s wild axe-swinging – the action eventually exists for its own sake, needlessly prolonging the movie’s thrills-and-spills bent when a sombre, elegiac register would seem to be the order of the day. Luckily, Cameron does briefly relent, allowing Gloria Stuart to revel in her emotions as she reaches back in time*; and in the story proper when everyone stops talking and the band, brought on deck to calm fraying nerves, plays their final piece, their plaintive melody juxtaposed with passengers accepting their fate and tenderly preparing for the worst.

However, the key to the movie’s extraordinary success lies not with the small moments, but with how brilliantly the big, pantomimic emotions play out on the big screen, where the majesty of the thundering engine room, the unnatural sounds of the ship breaking up and the enormous scale of the incredible stuntwork are experienced in full. And it’s not fair to criticise the film for what it became, a regrettable demonstration of the scalability of the film industry; or for the fact that, thanks to Celine Dion, James Horner’s pipe-laden melodies became hackneyed in our ears; or for the fact that the special effects now have a distinctly digital and occasionally unconvincing sheen.

No, to put it simply, Titanic works as an event, experienced communally in a cinema. James Cameron may not be able to tell a nuanced or complicated story, but, as he would prove again with the hugely successful Avatar, he understands mainstream movie-making like no-one else. Unlike Avatar, and despite its primary-colour, simplistic brushstrokes, Titanic’s big emotions feel genuine on the big screen; which is why, even with massive reservations, I’d gladly watch it repeatedly in all its overblown, overlong glory.

NOTES: On the other hand, I only recently realised that Rose dies at the end, which casts a different light on the technically proficient reanimation of the ship’s hulk to its former glory – all the other dead people have been hanging around just waiting for her to snuff it, so they can applaud her and Jack’s snogging? Give me a break.

The Man who Would be King

WFTB Score: 13/20

The plot: Two British Army officers, tired of rules and regulations in late 19th Century India, strike out to find their own kingdom. Despite the hardship of the terrain and overwhelming odds, the pair arrive in Kafiristan and put their takeover plan into action; however, no kingdom can have two kings and one becomes exasperated with the other’s assumed omnipotence.

When a disfigured wretch appears in the doorway of India’s Northern Star newspaper, journalist Mr Kipling (Christopher Plummer) recognises him as Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine), the chancer who crossed his path three years earlier in the abortive theft of his Mason-inscribed pocket watch. Carnehan recalls the pact he and fellow former Army Officer Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) made in the very same office, to strike out over the Khyber Pass and the Hindu Kush to Kafiristan, a remote state where they plotted to use their rifles and military discipline to take control, village by village, until they were masters of all they surveyed.

Picking up linguistically-gifted gurkha Billy Fish (Saeed Jaffrey) on the way, the plan works better than either man could have anticipated, since due to a stroke of luck in battle Danny is taken to be the god-like ‘son of Sikander’ (that is, Alexander the Great) and given access to a luxurious temple and immense wealth. Unfortunately, while Peachy keeps his eyes on the prize, namely the promise of a millionaire’s lifestyle back in London, the role of king goes to Danny’s head; his ill-omened decision to take a mortal Queen in Roxanne (Shakira Caine) has dreadful consequences.

It’s easy to fear the worst from a film set in the pomp of Britain’s rule over India, and which starts with scenes of snake charmers and dirty, crowded streets to emphasise the exotic foreignness of the place. However, it would be wrong to assume that The Man Who Would be King is a film which debases or belittles the Indians; it highlights and distrusts Peachy and Daniel’s suavity and assumed superiority just as much as it shows us the ‘savagery’ of the people of Kafiristan. The Indians’ belief in Gods is seen – in English Eyes, at least – to be primitive and savage, but equally the avaricious, power-hungry attitude of Carnehan and Dravot is shown to be ultimately repellent – early on, Peachy outrageously pitches an Indian out of his train carriage for no reason whatsoever. And what is the Masonic brotherhood if not a form of superstitious worship, or at least a white man’s Brotherhood? I couldn’t tell you whether or not the film’s even-handedness accurately reflects the tenor of Kipling’s short story, which I understand is generally faithfully recreated.

The PC credentials of the film are among its least interesting aspects, however. The Man Who Would be King is a beautifully-shot movie, which spares no expense as it follows our ‘heroes’ over impossibly difficult terrain (France standing in for the Hindu Kush) into their series of skirmishes, which result in Danny being crowned Son of Sikander. The plot is also fascinating, building up Danny’s self-destructive arrogance which mirrors the sentiment of Wallace Stevens’ line ‘Let be be finale of seem’ – if he looks like the king and acts like the king, and everyone treats him like the king, who’s to say he isn’t? The story can be seen as a fable comparable to that of Icarus, or as a microcosm of colonialism, prefiguring Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and, therefore, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. It’s all proper, high-quality film-making, with an equal emphasis on substance and style.

But – let me come back to that line of poetry. One of the strange things about any form of drama is that although we know we’re watching actors, we’re willing to accept them as the characters they’re playing too, no matter how famous the star. But this is only true to an extent. Unfortunately, because Michael Caine and Sean Connery have two of the most recognisable voices in the movies, and neither does anything to alter their voice in any way here, they always seem to be Caine and Connery even if we’re also aware that they’re playing Peachy and Danny perfectly well, and with decent chemistry. Which is not to say that the actors are miscast, only that they might have tailored their performances a smidgen to their specific roles (this is, of course, an observation made thirty-five years after the fact, when impersonators have done their worst with both actors and Connery has made a fortune giving his characters Scottish accents regardless of their origins). Elsewhere, both Plummer and Jaffrey are rather good, while Mrs Caine’s acting chops are barely tested as Roxanne.

Tastes in film change over time and to many, The Man Who Would be King will feel slow and plodding, indulging two star names who have a whale of a time to the (slight) detriment of the story as a whole. Get over the fact that it’s Caine and Connery, however, and an epic tale of friendship, power, religion and human ambition unfolds handsomely before you. Definitely worth catching, not least because it’ll tell you more about Alexander than Oliver Stone’s miserable movie ever did.

Clueless

WFTB Score: 12/20

The plot: Air-headed rich girl Cher Horowitz has her own life so sorted that she takes it upon herself to organise everyone else’s. In particular, she decides to scrub up Tai, the new girl at her school, and pair her up with a well-heeled boy. However, Cher’s best-laid plans go terribly awry when he goes after her instead, and more humiliation is to follow when she sets her cap at the handsome but strangely reluctant Christian. Could her sometime stepbrother Josh prove to be an unlikely Knight(ley) in shining armour?

Confident blonde Cher (Alicia Silverstone) may not be the greatest driver or the sharpest tool in the box, but she’s rich, which counts for a lot in Beverly Hills. Together with equally sharp-dressing valley girl Dionne (Stacey Dash), she rules the roost over her high school, improving on poor grades by matchmaking grumpy teachers Mr Hall and Miss Geist (Wallace Shawn and Twink Caplan). Cher’s success as Cupid inspires her to take on trashy new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) as a ‘project’, which means modernising her wardrobe and turning her attention away from compatible skater boy Travis (Breckin Meyer) towards well-groomed Elton (Jeremy Sisto). Unfortunately, the result of Cher’s string-pulling is Elton hitting on her instead, then getting robbed when she spurns his advances and he dumps her on the street.

Luckily, Cher’s ex-step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd) is on hand to keep the incident away from the angry ears of her lawyer father Mel (Dan Hedaya); and he’s also there to keep watch when Cher decides she’s in love with the cute and curiously waspish Christian (Justin Walker). For all her assumed worldliness, Cher discovers she has a lot to learn about her influence over and interactions with others, especially when it comes to love.

From a purely linguistic view, I should be tamping mad with Clueless. As a film which celebrates West Coast mangling of the English language, full of ‘likes’ and ‘as ifs’ and the ubiquitous ‘Whatever’ gesture, I should really be baying for writer/director Heckerling’s blood. And the very thought of turning Jane Austen’s classic Emma into a vehicle for spoilt young fashion victims!

Amazingly, Clueless is filmed and performed so disarmingly brightly and in such good spirit that it’s hard not to go with it. Heckerling displays great wit in relocating Austen’s story and characters to California, turning the Miss Bates bits into charity work and compressing the Frank Churchill/Jane Fairfax storyline – strangely effectively – into the character of Christian, even if what eventually happens is blindingly obvious to everyone bar Cher. The screenplay is full of nice touches, such as the dozens of students recovering from nose jobs in the background of many scenes; and even if, catchphrases apart, the film doesn’t have the memorable sting of the lines in (for example) 10 Things I Hate About You, that’s not necessarily a drawback, since this is a much bubblier affair, more akin to Legally Blonde (Elle Woods could be Cher a few years later).

It should be noted, too, that Clueless is the grande dame of literary classic to high school adaptations*, assuming West Side Story is discounted (as I think it must be), and provides a pretty thorough template, right down to the obligatory smattering of eclectic tunes on the soundtrack (Radiohead, Supergrass, Coolio, Jewel). Though many other movies have built on the formula to varying degrees of success – Cruel Intentions, Get Over It, She’s All That – they all follow the trail blazed by Heckerling.

It also helps that the cast are all well-chosen: Silverstone is central to the movie’s success, good enough to be annoyingly vacuous, non-threateningly alluring and winningly vulnerable in quick succession; Rudd, in an early role, uses his natural charm and humour to good effect; Brittany Murphy (bless her) is also really good as Tai, transforming funnily from Cher’s scruffy lab rat to Queen Bee (to mix both animal metaphors and movie references); and Dan Hedaya makes for an intimidating but admirably protective father. I wasn’t struck by Donald Faison’s gangsta-style Murray (Dionne’s boyfriend) and didn’t warm to Breckin Meyer at all, but I never do (see Road Trip and Kate and Leopold) and he’s by no means awful here.

So why doesn’t Clueless get an ‘A’ grade? Well, mainly because it doesn’t have the humility to name Emma or Austen as its inspiration (even in the ‘Thanks’ credits), which is just rude. The movie is also undeniably featherweight fluff; and while this is sometimes exactly what you want as a moviegoer, it does mean that it’s never going to be thought of as high art.

Moreover, while this isn’t strictly the movie’s fault, its legacy and influence hasn’t been entirely positive. Many filmmakers have failed to grasp the point of Clueless, that Cher has to realise how selfish and interfering she has been – and have instead concentrated on the superficial: the clothes, the make-up, the hair. As a result, you move from Cher to Elle Woods’ forty hairstyles to Elle’s dreadful sequel, and before you know it you’re at The Hottie and the Nottie.

Finally, it’s worth noting that unlike ‘safe’ films like A Cinderella Story or The Princess Diaries, Clueless is a knowing comedy for teenagers and up. The references to sex and drugs feel a smidgen racy for a 12 certificate, though they’re dealt with in a straightforward way and – while I’m not sure if this helps or not – most of the cast are way older than their supposed ages (Rudd’s in his mid-20s, Silverstone 18; and though it wouldn’t be polite to mention Stacey Dash’s age, look it up and be amazed).

As I’ve said before about similar movies, I’m not the target audience for Clueless, but I was surprised how much fun it was to watch, and look forward to doing so again when I’m next in the mood for colourful, brainless entertainment. It’s certainly more fun than Doug McGrath’s Emma – though that does have the decency to name Miss Austen as its source!

NOTES: I am perfectly happy to be told otherwise.

Poison Ivy

WFTB Score: 8/20

The plot: Lonely teenager Sylvie ‘Coop’ Cooper befriends a bright but wild contemporary she calls Ivy, who quickly becomes a fixture in the Cooper household. Initially, neither grizzled father Darryl nor ailing mother Georgie are keen on the cuckoo in the nest; however, Ivy manipulates them both to her advantage, pulling one and pushing the other, to Sylvie’s growing horror.

Sylvie Cooper (Sara Gilbert) is an introverted, introspective rebel without a friend, smoking and getting shapes cut in her hair in an unsuccessful effort to get noticed by her schoolmates or her parents. When a brassy, provocatively-dressed girl (Drew Barrymore) comes into town, ‘Coop’ writes her off as a slut; but she’s also intrigued and the pair bond over detention, Sylvie naming the girl ‘Ivy’ after the tattoo on her thigh.

Ivy’s uninterested aunt doesn’t care when Ivy moves into chez Cooper, but although it’s a swanky place, it’s not a happy home: depressive mother Georgie (Cheryl Ladd) is dying of emphysema, rising from her bed only to bitterly fulminate about her life, while opinionated, former alcoholic father Darryl (Tom Skerritt) is desperately trying to hold on to his job managing a TV station. Although the relationship is based on Ivy spending Coop’s money, the latter is happy just to have a friend. Georgie also comes to rely on Ivy and after a party Darryl throws for his bosses, Ivy seduces him, having made sure Coop is elsewhere. Despicable behaviour, but Ivy is capable of much, much worse…

Poison Ivy‘s story is, to all intents and purposes, thoroughly reprehensible. Though neither Ivy nor Coop are given ages, Barrymore and Gilbert were seventeen at the time of the film’s release, so were clearly of a tender-ish age despite Drew’s much-publicised troubles and Sara’s extensive experience in TV’s Roseanne. As such, the film is treading on dangerous, Lolita-like territory and you have to ask who it’s for. If it’s for dirty old men looking for simulated underage rumpy (albeit with a plethora of cutaways and use of a body double), then shame on it (and them); however, their patience will be tested by Sylvie’s teenage angst which takes precedence over the sensuous but fairly brief sex scenes. On the other hand – quite apart from the certification – teenagers who might identify with Coop will surely be freaked out by the gross Old Man Sex (I’m no great judge of these matters, but Skerritt is surely a less credible DILF (no?) than, say, Kevin Spacey in American Beauty).

It’s not as if Poison Ivy has much to distinguish it as a piece of cinema: it’s shot in workmanlike fashion, and the plot relies on one hoary device – Ivy absent-mindedly humming an incriminating tune – and the characters accepting one shaky premise: when Ivy crashes Georgie’s precious Corvette, she makes out that Coop was driving the car, even though Coop’s head clearly goes through the passenger side of the windscreen; Ivy then continues lovemaking without Darryl ever seeing the steering wheel bruise across her chest (though she is facing away from him when…well, you know). As for subplots, there’s a single scene in which Darryl’s instability costs him his job, but it has no bearing whatsoever on the film as a whole.

If you can cope with the film’s exploitative bent, however, Poison Ivy works rather well as a sleazy, teenage variation on Fatal Attraction. It chimes in perfectly with the ‘home invasion’ theme, prevalent in the late eighties and early nineties, that says some piece of poor trash is going to ruin your affluent life and take away your nice things (see also The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or Single White Female). The action is competently staged and ratchets up to a semi-hallucinogenic climax, the lack of subplot (Ivy’s history is barely explored) meaning that it’s uncomplicated by nuance or pointless diversions. The film runs at around an hour and a half and very little of that time is wasted.

Poison Ivy is also a fairly powerful psycho-drama, which doesn’t just mean a drama featuring a psycho. Although Ivy’s acquisitiveness, and what she’ll do to acquire what she wants, is key to the plot, her cruelty is more interesting: she picks on Coop as soon as she befriends her, taking advantage in the knowledge that Sylvie’s desperate need for friendship will override her qualms. Furthermore, the way in which Ivy usurps Mrs Cooper’s position in both Darryl and Sylvie’s lives, offering them both (in different ways) an intimacy that Georgie has long since rejected, is fascinating. The scene in which Sylvie joins Ivy in her mother’s bed is key in this respect and contrasts with the film’s earthier scenes. It’s important that Gilbert and Barrymore can really act and they do well, Gilbert in particular striking the right balance as the hacked-off, intelligent loner confused by her feelings for her dangerously sexualised ‘friend’. Skerritt and Ladd are perfectly fine, but the movie belongs to the girls.

In my review of Clueless I mention that it has questions to answer over its legacy. That accusation goes double for Poison Ivy, which (I read) spawned an increasingly sordid series of sequels built around the sex scenes rather than the plot. This movie is provocatively sexual at times, which many will find extremely distasteful given the ages of those involved; however, unlike the sequels, the story takes precedence here and results in a concise, psychologically meaty movie with a tangible atmosphere of danger surrounding Ivy wherever she goes, from the first frame to the last. I’m just not sure that I’d be comfortable actively recommending it to anyone.