In line with the recent indie trend of scripted features presented in a documentary style, "Let's Talk About Sex" is a flat-out crude and sloppy piece of filmmaking that's bogged down by laughable melodrama and weak perfs.

In line with the recent indie trend of scripted features presented in a documentary style, “Let’s Talk About Sex” is a flat-out crude and sloppy piece of filmmaking that’s bogged down by laughable melodrama and weak perfs. The salacious material and the overall low quality of the proceedings makes it nearly impossible to distinguish filmmaker Troy Beyer’s debut feature from any latenight cable soft-core pic. Fine Line should expect minimal theatrical returns, though pic could do well — where else — on cable.

Scripter-helmer Beyer stars as Jazz, a Miami advice columnist who’s sick of her newspaper gig and wants to get her idea for a TV show off the ground. She’s come up with a documentary that features women talking about what they desire in sex and relationships. Jazz has a week to film a pilot to submit to producers for consideration, so she employs her best friends — the ruthless man-user Michelle (Paget Brewster) and the vulnerable, constantly-taken-advantage-of Lena (Randi Ingerman).

The trio set out to “find out what makes girls tick,” which means being made privy to an abundance of women talking about sexual wants and frustrations. As the trio creates the film, they find themselves coming to terms with their own sexual angst. Everything works out wonderfully at the end, as Jazz, Michelle and Lena finally fall in or out of bed with the right guys.

Pic’s hyper, wannabe-titillating structure (the narrative is constantly and randomly interrupted by women spieling about sex) grows increasingly tiresome and obvious. We see steamy re-enactments and listen to X-rated descriptions. Nearly every sexual topic is discussed, analyzed and joked about from a female point of view, but it’s done so in the most shallow way conceivable.

Attempting to evoke a hip, free-spirited Miami ambiance, “Let’s Talk About Sex” lacks the suaveness that it seems so eager to portray. The problems begin with the way Beyer has created her lead characters — these women seem not to think about anything other than their relations (or lack of) with men. They spew out the same young-single-woman clichés that have been repeated hundreds of times.

Though it attempts to promote female independence and sexual freedom, pic comes across as rather degrading in the way it portrays women in stereotypical ways. For example, when times get especially tough for the three friends, they can think of nothing else to do except clean Jazz’s apartment. The soundtrack blares at this point, as the women shed tears and find catharsis with every rub of the sponge.

Performances are not impressive (though to be fair, thesps did not have much to work with), nor are Bill Henry’s uneven editing or Kelly Evans’ lensing, which interweaves celluloid with video. The cheesy, pop-tune-filled soundtrack is probably appropriate to what’s onscreen, but it’s tacky nonetheless.

Let's Talk About Sex

Production

A Fine Line Features release of a Deborah Ridpath production. Produced by Ridpath. Executive producer, Susan Ainsworth. Co-producer, Sara King. Directed, written by Troy Beyer.

With

Jazz - Troy Beyer Michelle - Paget Brewster Lena - Randi Ingerman Michael - Joseph C. Phillips Morgan - Michaline Babich Drew - Tina Nguyen
Camera (color), Kelly Evans; editor, Bill Henry; music, Michael Carpenter; production designer, art director, Chandler Roneli; Joe Warson; costume designer, Timothy Biel; line producer, Gary Sales; casting, Mary Jo Slater, Ellen Jacoby. Reviewed at the Aidikoff Screening Room, Beverly Hills, Sept. 9, 1998. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 82 MIN.

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