Anais Nin’s 1977 novel serves as a basis for a telefilm that revels in an American woman in 1940 Paris trying to come to grips with her sexual feelings; title of the vidpic refers poetically to her “own secret place,” a Ninism if ever there was one. Directed glossily but hardly persuasively by Zalman King (1992 feature “Wild Orchid”), the softcore porn offering, striving to be deep, winds up in the shallows.
Elena Martin (Audie England), blue because she’s been in Paris for four months and her agent hasn’t sold her story, encounters writer Lawrence (Costas Mandylor), who’d like to be complex but isn’t.
They fling themselves among choreographed milling crowds until, landing in her apartment, she shucks her clothes; he, dropping his pants, has his way with her.
Instantly in love with him (before they met, she was “growing sad with restlessness and hunger,” she confides), she burns when she spots him with a whore in the street. Never wanting to see him again, she starts writing obscene stories for an unknown devotee, the dirtier the better.
In voiceover, Elena fantasizes about sex. She offers samples of her frail writings illustrated by projected affairs. Her kinkiness blends into the vidpic’s action.
King favors offbeat lighting, plenty of skin, writhing extras, and has a corner on the lit-candles market. England, looking mostly glum, sheds her clothes without much fuss. Elena’s adventures in the skin trade range from posing in the buff at an artist’s studio with a nude man (Daniel Leza) to eyeballing an undressed male clairvoyant who’s with a woman.
Mandylor’s character is no thesping challenge, and the actor colors him bland.
Raven Snow makes a strong impresh as a lesbian chanteuse, and Leza’s male model offers the only credible line in the vidpic when he tells Elena why he can no longer model with her.
Eagle Egilsson’s lensing shines. In Prague, where the film was shot, designer Zdenek Flemming hasn’t ferreted out much that feels like Paris. As for the sets being sophisticated and worldly, they look contrived. Telefilm, striving for an intellectual tone, remains an arty skeleton of a skinpic.