Love, infidelity, jealousy and regret permeate “Death Defying Acts,” an often stilted but generally watchable low budget update of tales by 19th-century French author Guy de Maupassant. Quartet of stories, set to a refined but overbearing classical score, is nicely interlaced, if mostly overwritten. Pic plays like a better-than-average film school project, its purely artistic aspirations parsed by visible genitals. As public domain material goes, one could do far worse than Maupassant; however, writer-helmer-producer Edward G. Morris could probably have done better with a little more coin. Cable outlets should find this ensembler tempting.
Georgina loves wearing cheap costume jewelry and has a nasty cough. Elderly Paul is still kicking himself for not marrying Ursula after WWII. Feeling neglected, Zach’s wife makes him pay — quite literally — for his infidelities. And a married woman enlists help when the handsome fellow she’s been cheating with drops dead in her bed. Perfs range from adequate to convincing, with Jonathan McWade as Zach a cut above. Developing his penchant for culture-plus-prurience, helmer will shoot his next feature, per production notes, on location “in several prestigious insane asylums in New England.”