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Visiting Desire

Following "Two Small Bodies," arguably one of her more compelling films, New York filmmaker Beth B. takes a major career step backward with "Visiting Desire, " a verbose, academic exercise in which a dozen characters get to act out their erotic fantasies.

Following “Two Small Bodies,” arguably one of her more compelling films, New York filmmaker Beth B. takes a major career step backward with “Visiting Desire, ” a verbose, academic exercise in which a dozen characters get to act out their erotic fantasies. Neither funny nor provocative, this intellectually tedious film, which runs only 70 minutes but feels much longer, may travel the festival road, though it’s doubtful that many patrons would buy tickets to see it.

Prologue consists of interviews with professional therapists and ordinary people (on the street) offering their definition of fantasy. Despite conceptual variability, the most common elements that emerge suggest that fantasies tend to be dangerous, unconscious, playful, and even perverse.

What follows is a psychological experiment that director Beth B. conducted in April in which a group of men and women, total strangers to each other were locked in the same bedroom for five days and encouraged to express their innermost feelings — and fantasies of choice. The group is diverse enough to include a huge black man, a white skinhead, a dominatrix, a dancer, even a transvestite.

The first sequences, in which the characters nervously introduce themselves, have some charm, promising that the encounters to come will provide some excitement, fear and unknown experiences. However, the 14 scenes that serve as pic’s foundations aren’t terribly revelatory, ranging from the utterly childish all the way to the emotionally intense.

Footage is divided into segments that carry such obvious titles as Aggression , Innocence, Fliration, Trust, Control and Vulnerability. One expects intimate and explosive disclosures, but instead, the onscreen text just reinforces the feeling that therapeutic psychodramas don’t easily lend themselves to exciting visual treatment.

Unpolished tech credits and some truly boring encounters make “Visiting Desire” a laboriously prosaic film.

Visiting Desire

  • Production: A.B. production. Produced, directed by Beth B.
  • Crew: Camera (color, 16mm). Beth B.; editor, Melody London; music, Jim Filer Coleman; sound, Beth B. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 7, 1996. Running time: 70 MIN.
  • With: <B>With:</B> Lydia Lunch, Kembra Pfahler, Shannon O'Kelley, Chloe Dzubilo, Ned Ambler, Cyrus Khambatta, Eric Danville, Annie OK, John Val Jean, Patty Powers, Lysa Cooper, Doug Charles.
  • Music By: