Mysterious Sex Fables
Release Date: April 08, 2005
Starring: Li Gong, Chen Chang, Robert
Downey Jr., Alan Arkin, and
Rating: R for strong sexual content
including graphic nudity, and
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures
Director: Kar Wai Wong, Steven
Soderbergh, and Michelangelo
Executive Producer: N/A
Producer: Jacques Bar, Raphael Berdugo,
Gregory Jacobs, Domenico
Tchalgadjieff, and Jacky Pang
Writer: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino
Guerra, Steven Soderbergh, and
Kar Wai Wong
Address Comments To:Mark Gill, President
Warner Independent Pictures
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
First is “The Hand” by Korean filmmaker Kar Wai Wong, a story about a demanding woman and a tailor who is bewitched by her. His craft becomes a metaphor for the unhealthy devotion that he feels for the client, who he eventually learns is a prostitute. Even as she is wasting away with disease, he sits by her bedside and pays her living expenses. “The Hand” is difficult to follow because little details are given about the characters or even about what’s occurring – the audience receives only little glimpses into the action, making for a slow-moving experience.
“Equilibrium,” Soderbergh’s contribution, is clearly the most nuanced and lively of the three parts. Starring Robert Downey, Jr. as a patient of the therapist played by Alan Arkin, the segment has red herrings, shadowy lighting and multiple interpretations like a dream would have. Downey is troubled by a recurring dream, but while he tells about it, Arkin is extremely distracted by something out the window. The segment ends with an interesting twist that resembles something in Soderbergh’s experimental FULL FRONTAL.
Finally is Michelangelo Antonioni’s contribution, “The Dangerous Thread of Things.” Antonioni seems to want to make his art so oblique and challenging that no one can understand it. What happens is this: A bickering couple leaves their stately home in Tuscany and drives around the country. Soon, the man comes across a stranger in the woods and has a dalliance with her. Then, that woman dances on the beach. Later, the woman from the beginning of the movie dances on the beach. Amazingly, I have left out very little. Readers may infer gratuitous nudity during most of these scenes.
Because the parts that make up EROS offer so little in the way of conventional narrative, it is somewhat difficult to follow the characters’ actions or to recognize a “worldview.” Most viewers would agree that the characters are following the path that makes them immediately happy.
EROS, then, was a fine idea but a failed experiment. Similar to the function of a short story anthology, to get several filmmakers’ takes on a single topic could expose audiences to new kinds of storytelling and new thoughts. Regrettably, Wong and Antonioni are content to bask in minor weirdness and provocation instead of telling significant stories, which negates the point of an experimental anthology like EROS.
With too much female nudity and strange sexual situations, EROS is unfit for audiences.
Each of the stories touches on themes of love and sex, though in highly unconventional, sometimes unrecognizable ways. Antonioni makes his story so oblique and challenging that no one probably can understand it, which is part of the problem with EROS. The stories try so hard to be experimental that they neglect good storytelling, so the audience is left with very little of anything but minor weirdness and provocation. With too much female nudity and strange sexual situations, EROS is unfit for audiences.