The Opposite of Sex - rated - Tepid

This film should have been better than it was. It has Christina Ricci and Martin Donovan, for a start. Both are in fine form. The film is very funny, and it has lots of plot twists and turns to keep things interesting. It has the villain (Ricci) as narrator, and she subverts all the filmic conventions nicely.

So what is it about this film that's not to like? Well, for a start I found it phony. It's a film about relationships, but many of the character are exaggerated - it's hard to lose yourself in their emotions. And much of what they did seemed wrong to me - like the writer was forcing these characters to do things they wouldn't do of their own accord.

In a way, the film revels in its phoniness: Ricci, as Dedee, the half-sister from hell, narrates the film and controls the action. This is fun, mostly, and very Brechtian. At one stage Dedee even draws our attention to the film's score. After a particularly poignant scene involving Martin Donovan, she says: "It's just music, it doesn't mean he's better than me."

Dedee causes lots of havoc, but the plot developments feel forced, not natural. Don Rees, the director, has had a lot to say in the press about how as a writer in Hollywood (he wrote Love Field, Boys on the Side and Single White Female ), you are forced to write the way Hollywood wants, and pitch everything at the level of "the mall". So he turned director, in order to get more control. But maybe he's overreacted. He's broken quite a few rules here, in an effort to break out of that stereotypical mold, but to what purpose?

In the end, things get pretty mushy. Even with the attempted "pull-out" (as Dedee might put it), the film comes awfully close to the clichéd Hollwood-style ending. I found the moral of the story as false as the rest of it, and so I left wondering what the point was of all of this cleverness and toughness. Maybe the people in Hollywood know one or two things about script-writing after all.