Thursday, January 27, 2011

#42: Zebra Lounge

I've always held that the erotic thriller genre has something very easy going in the first 30 minutes of the movie. Characters have to be drawn towards each other to end up having sex and the progress till that scene (or what is known in screenplay as Plot Point 1 in such movies) is inevitably watchable. In movies like Body Heat this build-up makes for magnetic viewing and the plot continues to ascend culminating in a thriller climax. In movies like Zebra Lounge, the second part falls through faster than a rock in a lake.

Zebra Lounge is the story of one couple- the Barnets- Wendy and Daniel (the extremely hot Brandy Ledford and Daniel Magder) who in trying to ignite the spark in their married life end up with a randy swinger couple- the Bauers (Stephen Baldwin and Kristy Swanson). The first sex scene is extremely well shot and brings out the aesthetics of love making in slow motion to the fore. The trouble however begins when this supposed one-time encounter attracts the Bauers' so much that they end up shadowing the Barnets in their daily lives. In a farcical turn of events, Jack Bauer (Baldwin) is suddenly shown putting himself very close to the people at Daniel Barnet's (Daniel Magder) office. Soon enough, the Barnets' have had enough of the Bauers' unannounced intrusion in their parties and neighborhood and want to distance themselves. The problem that arises is that the Bauers' are too clingy and difficult to get rid off.

The movie was almost watchable till this point and then comes an absolutely unnecessary murder with the flimsiest of motives and all the effort the writers and director had put till this point comes to nought. Where the writing fails is the lack of progression or any meaningful direction after the first Plot Point. No amount of savvy direction could've prevented the movie from falling into the depths it ultimately succumbs to. Some of the performances are not even worth a mention especially Daniel Magder's. Even a dead rock could've emoted better. Kristy Swanson is just wasted as the ever-silent-but-kinky housewife while Stephen Baldwin sleepwalks through his role. Brandy Ledford is only show-stealer in the movie and probably has the best etched out character and lends a spark to all the scenes she's in.

Zebra Lounge very easily falls in that predictable chasm of style over substance, that is the bane of this genre. Deception and Elegy are other examples that come to mind. Apart from a superbly shot sex scene and the desirable Brandy Ledford, the movie has little else to offer. That I could even find two positives about Zebra Lounge is a credit to itself. And probably the only one.

Rating: 4.5/10

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