Despite decent acting, 'Body Shots' is ridden with holes
Jane (Amanda Peet) confronts Sara (Tara Reid) in 'Body Shots.' Trent (Ron Livingston, right) walks down the street.|
The promotional material said, "One night will change eight lives" and "The film to define this generation." I don't think so.
With a script by David McKenna, the author of last year's powerful "American History X," and direction by a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning author director, Michael Cristofer, I anticipated that this film would be a worthy offering. The story of how one night changed the lives of eight 20-somethings (four men and four women) seemed like a promising premise. However, what appeared on screen was much less that what was promised.
The tale is about the social and sex lives of these youths in Los Angeles who meet for an evening at a club. One couple is in the beginning stages of a romance; each bring along three friends for this night out. The major focus of this film is the sexual behavior and mores of this group and their peers in late '90s Los Angeles Information I received on this film included remarks that the director re-wrote the film to focus on the search for love, rather than just sex, but little about love comes through in this story. Each one gives a little talk to the camera about their attitudes on dating in groups and the quest for sexual encounters. One of the characters plainly comes out and says that admitting to looking for love is "not playing the game," and may be seen as a weakness. This sexual focus of the film is reinforced by titles that are inserted periodically to the describe phase of the film, starting with "Foreplay." Despite this, the film's almost clinical approach makes it seem almost documentary-like at times, rather than a hot sexy tale of a night out. The talkative manner of the film gives it a somewhat "stagey" effect that is not dismissed by photographic effects that are interspersed. The cool tone of the story keeps us at a distance from what these people might be feeling or who they are as people, leaving the viewer uninvolved with the characters. We only learn about their thoughts on sexual mores and behavior.
During this night out, an event occurs to divide the group, women against men, and change the nature of the night. However, instead of this event leading to character change and a resolution, no one seems to change and the audience is left hanging about the resolution of the events. While the acting and photography are nicely done, they are not enough to overcome the obstacles created by the story's treatment. Although the director may have meant this as a cautionary tale on the emptiness and dangers of this lifestyle, its emotional distance and talkative approach just make this film dull. The fact that this director is not a member of the generation in the film makes its superior tone somewhat objectionable. There are times when it seems that the script hints that a different kind of story was intended, and it's tempting to speculate that this may be a case of the director being at odds with the material. The film was uninvolving rather than bad and is very short for a drama, I certainly wouldn't consider it one of the must-see films of the fall.