Fleshing out sexual fantasies
8 1/2 Women
Review by Ross Anthony

"How many directors make films to satisfy their sexual fantasies?" a rich man asks his bachelor son, "Most of them," the son responds. This interchange chimes the motivation of the movie. As if this film's director seeks to absolve his obvious indulgence. Like a friend with loose lips asking, "Doesn't everyone gossip?"

God no! Most films aren't about anyone's sexual fantasies, though many films at moments might dabble. "8 1/2 Women" isn't dabbling. Intrigued by the title and expecting anything other than a "dating game" flick, I endured over two hours worth of the sexual escapades of the rich and insatiable. Now, I'm not dismissing the subject matter, it's quite likely that an excellent film could have been made about an individual's particular erotic longings.

The film opens in Japan, as a European tycoon and his son take over a Pachinko casino. The son manages the place, while dad goes back home. Soon enough the tycoon's wife passes away, leaving him in need of an extraordinary amount of comforting. The son and father spend a lot of time together discussing a myriad of topics in a pseudo-intellectual/aristocratic manner, but always managing to return to the film's favorite topic of all - sex. And to note, some of this bonding time is spent without any clothes on. Sometimes this discussion is interesting, sometimes not.

Okay, so bent on getting dad back into spirits, said son lassos the purchasing power of money to lure 8 1/2 women to their huge estate in Luxembourg. Yes, the 1/2 a woman is in a wheel chair. The two 8 1/2 Womenordinary looking men enjoy their harem, and that's really about it. Though the film has little more to offer than sex, little of it is actually shown, but there is a great deal of nudity. And, at times the shear oddity of it all is amusing.

Here's a telling quote from the director, art is ... "there to make us think, through both content and form. I hope to explore new areas of experience - which indeed some people find disturbing. Cinema should be an invigorating, exciting cultural form that must deal in all the taboo and dangerous subject matter we demand of other art forms."

  • 8 1/2 Women. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Polly Walker, Amanda Plummer, Toni Collette, John Standing, Matthew Delamerre, Vivian Wu.
  • Writer/Director Peter Greenaway.
  • Produced by Kees Kasander, a Lion's Gate Release.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:22:17 PDT