Love and death relate unexpectedly in Ann Lu’s erotic curio as a housewife is lured from middle-class respectability for a walk on the wild side. Invited to dinner by a mysterious stranger, the woman soon finds herself breaking into and entering other peoples’ homes for illicit trysts, following a trail of address-inscribed matchbooks. Shady mood-piece profits greatly from enigmatic perf by Emmanuel Xeureb in the sexy loner part of Gabe, but the sulky awkwardness of lead actress Charis Michelsen(“High Art”) never quite gets across her character Irene’s uncertainty or sexual liberation. Fests and latenight cable loom.
While the characters violate the lives of others by invading their private spaces, their motivations are murky. At times, the bland gentility of Michelsen’s repressed husband Carl (Lee Holmes) seems, in itself, sufficient incentive for her adventurous extracurricular walkabout.
Mysterious phone calls and cryptic conversations hint at a darker impetus behind Gabe’s behavior; his actions, turn out to be part of a bizarre mourning ritual that allows him to come to terms with his anger over his estranged wife’s imminent death.
Eerily, helmer Ann Lu and her own husband — “Blair Witch Project” lenser Neal Fredericks, who shot “Erosion” — separated during filming, and Fredericks died in a plane crash soon after the pic’s completion.
In her fictional study of marital disintegration and dying ex-partners, Lu concentrates on erotic denial, mapping out her adulterous couple’s escalating escapist thrill-seeking as they confrontationally urge each other to push the envelope, their struggle for dominance taking kinky, if relatively innocuous guises.
Couple’s transgressions sometimes seem more in the nature of performance art than action, as the two quickly adapt to fit their ever-changing environments. Thus, commandeering what is shortly revealed to be the digs of an absent prostitute, Irene feels compelled to accept an anonymous client.
Despite a rigorous control of tone, atmospheric lensing by Fredericks and a remarkably charismatic turn by Xeureb, the viewer is never completely swept up into the spiraling fascination of the forbidden, most likely held back by the pic’s lurking conventionality.
Tech credits were impossible to properly judge, due to the poor quality of the print projected at Brooklyn Film Festival, though a DVD gives a better accounting of the film.