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  Whispers in the Dark Shrink Turns PinkBuy this film here.
Year: 1992
Director: Christopher Crowe
Stars: Annabella Sciorra, Jamey Sheridan, Anthony LaPaglia, Jill Clayburgh, John Leguizamo, Deborah Kara Unger, Anthony Heald, Alan Alda, Jacqueline Brookes, Gene Canfield
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ann Hecker (Annabella Sciorra) is a newly single psychiatrist who has therapy sessions with disturbed patients, and one morning when she arrives at work she's in the elevator and notices a man (Jamey Sheridan) glancing at her, to which she doesn't react. There's a pause and he explains himself, telling her he was just looking because he thought she was really pretty, but it's her floor and she walks off without saying anything, smiling a little. When the day at the office starts she sees among others the unstable artist John (John Leguizamo) and the worrying Eve (Deborah Kara Unger) whose sexually explicit confessions have captivated Ann...

Of course, the person you would most like to see in a nineties erotic thriller is none other than... Alan Alda! No, wait, that's a terrible idea, but it's one writer and director Christopher Crowe went with as if to say yeah, we don't want things to get too steamy after all so have the erstwhile Hawkeye Pierce hoving into view every so often and we can be brought straight back down to earth with a bump. He played a good friend of Ann's, Leo Green, married to former Blue Peter presenter Sarah Green - oops, no, it's actually Jill Clayburgh in that role, and they both offered succour to the confused shrink.

Mentor Leo having been Ann's therapist once upon a time, and if there's one cliché about movie folks, it's that they love to unbosom themselves to a psychiatrist in therapy sessions, so naturally such things began to make more and more of an appearance in the works they were creating. Whether they offered any revelations such as an S&M dalliance ending with the punchline "I've never come so hard in all my life - I just convulsed" as the hapless Unger does with her character was more dubious, but she was beginning to get into her phase of sexually unusual roles where she demonstrated an ability to speak dialogue and act out such scenes with a straight face.

Not that her face looked anything but straight most of the time, but hey, a talent's a talent and it brought Deborah a minor cult following. We don't know whether Eve is sincerely having these experiences or it's part of the delusions which have afflicted her, but whatever, Ann is very interested and we see her visualisations of the yarns the patient concocts for her as Ann uses them for masturbation fodder. Indeed, the title sequence begins with the heroine alone in bed indulging in onanism, all tastefully filmed of course as Sciorra refused to do nudity, which you might have thought was a drawback in one of the erotic thrillers spreading like a rash over nineties pop culture.

Imagine if Sharon Stone had said, "Nope Mr Verhoeven, the clobber stays on in Basic Instinct!" Very different experience - Bill Hicks wouldn't have gotten much stand-up material out of that. Anyway, with Unger taking the strain in the fuzzily-shot sex scenes, there is a twist coming up which doesn't herald so much of a plunge into outright decadence but the opposite: now we're in a lot of dry talk, as if every character just wants to sit down for a chinwag about how this makes them feel, y'know? This includes Sheridan's nice guy Doug who invites Ann out for a coffee and one thing leads to another, before you know it they are in lurve which would be all very well until she realises this lover of Eve's may be someone Ann has become acquainted with. This middle section, which gets very glum, saps the energy from the movie, and you doubt it will ever recover, ah, but you're reckoning without the even bigger twist ending where we discover the identity of the bad guy, which is so ludicrous that it's worth hanging around for, just for the big laughs. Not so good otherwise. Music by Thomas Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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