Review: ‘Desperate Remedies’

An extravagant, opulent and mostly enjoyable exercise in high camp (or low kitsch), this ambitious first feature from Stewart Main and Peter Wells has 'cult item' written all over it.

An extravagant, opulent and mostly enjoyable exercise in high camp (or low kitsch), this ambitious first feature from Stewart Main and Peter Wells has ‘cult item’ written all over it.

Set in the mythical colonial seaport of Hope some time during the 19th century where Dorothea (Jennifer Ward-Lealand), an elegantly beautiful draper who likes to dress entirely in scarlet, lives with her assistant, Anne (Lisa Chappell), and worries about her young sister, Rose (Kiri Mills), addicted to opium thanks to a liaison with the sinister Fraser (Cliff Curtis).

Dorothea hires a handsome, penniless immigrant, Lawrence (Kevin Smith), to seduce Rose away from Fraser; instead, Lawrence falls for Dorothea.

All this is played out against a background of extravagantly stylized sets, magnificently designed costumes, and deafening opera music by Verdi and Berlioz. The corn is high, but the film is lots of fun, probably primarily appealing to a gay crowd.

Desperate Remedies

New Zealand

Production

Wallace. Director Stewart Main, Peter Wells; Producer James Wallace; Screenplay Stewart Main, Peter Wells; Camera Leon Narbey; Editor David Coulson; Music Peter Scholes; Art Director Michael Kane

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1993. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Jennifer Ward-Lealand Kevin Smith Lisa Chappell Cliff Curtis Michael Hurst Kiri Mills
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