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The Center of the World (2001)

Shane Edelman , Balthazar Getty , Wayne Wang  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Shane Edelman, Balthazar Getty, Molly Parker, Peter Sarsgaard, Karry Brown
  • Directors: Wayne Wang
  • Writers: Wayne Wang, Ellen Benjamin Wong, Miranda July, Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt
  • Producers: Andrew Loo, Francey Grace
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2001
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LPZW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,832 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Center of the World" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Molly Parker, Peter Sarsgaard. The controversial, critically acclaimed erotic battle of wills between a computer genius and a stripper. 2001/color/88 min/NR.

The titular center of the world is a matter of perspective in Wayne Wang's (The Joy Luck Club, Smoke) notorious, explicit drama of emotional isolation and sexual commerce in the modern world. According to rich, apathetic cyber-geek Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don't Cry), it's his home computer. Amateur rock & roll drummer and part-time stripper Molly Parker (Wonderland) deems it an erotic part of the female anatomy. Their "date" is merely a sexual contract that takes them to Las Vegas, a place as phony and impersonal as their so-called romance. "You know it's just an act, right?" she reminds him between her slinky bump-and-grind striptease shows and their sweaty sexual gymnastics.

The Internet makes a great metaphor for modern social alienation, with its impersonal communication and virtual sex, but there's not much else new in this familiar story other than the erotic content. Shot on dimly lit, high-definition video, the gray, washed palette sucks the glamour and titillation right out of the spectacle, turning it into an empty, soulless exercise in physical sensation and self delusion--appropriate to this story of lonely souls unable to break through their own isolation. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
154 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dialog heavy film about sex and love December 23, 2001
By Nick G
Borrowing a part of it's plot from `Indecent Proposal', `The Center Of The World' manages to be a sexually charged, and erotic film, one that may surprise some viewers because it was an American made movie.
The deal is simple...Richard, a computer genius (Peter Sarsgaard) offers Florence, a struggling musician/stripper (Molly Parker) $10,000 to spend the weekend with him in Vegas, but before she says yes he must agree to her kissing, only meeting between the hours of 10pm and 2am, not getting personal and absolutely no falling in love.
With these rules laid out in front of him Richard agrees even though he plans on making her love him.
The story of Richard and Flo unfolds slowly, but as the characters are developed the viewer realizes the pair are searching for the same
Molly Parker gives an intimate performances of a woman looking to find herself, and get past her fear of intimacy, and Peter Sarsgaard does a great job as Richard, an empty young man looking to make his life complete.
Although sexually explicit in spots (the lollipop scene must be seen to be believed) `The Center Of The World' never becomes cheap or porno-ish. And bravo to Ms. Parker and Mr. Sarsgaard for being brave enough to take on roles that required them to be fully nude in several scenes.
Anyone looking for a sex movie should look elsewhere, for the power of this film lies in it's two main characters. Those looking an artsy/erotic movie will enjoy this.
Nick Gonnella
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Center of the World October 7, 2007
By J. S.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As a stripper, I expected to relate closely to this movie (even though I would never meet a client outside of the club). I was not disappointed. The role of the female protagonist (stripper) was obviously created with respect for the character, and the film did a good job of making an obvious division between her "real" and "night" lives, which many "stripper movies" fail to reveal. It also does a surprisingly good job of showing the storyline from two, opposite perspectives (without any sort of split-screen narratives): both the stripper and her customer have well-thought-out, dynamic, complex roles.

The female protagonist does a fantastic job of showing the dichotomy between her "real" and "stripper" lives, and the director was smart to include a transformative scene where the actress changes herself in order to fit a different role (by applying make-up). Too often, strippers are portrayed as sex objects who are always "on," rather than the normal people we (often) are. This was refreshing.

So it's a pretty short movie, but the acting is very good, and the director/writer seems to have been informed about the industry, for I found it to be relatively authentic compared to most representations out there. Stripper-movie-junkies will find that this is not the typical stripper movie where women are scaling poles in the background at all times.

As a side note, you might wonder, upon viewing the film, if something is wrong with your TV screen, but you will quickly get used to the unique, grainy look of the movie. In my opinion, it actually adds to the authenticity the director is attempting to portray.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Expected May 29, 2002
This film is about two people who have compartmentalized their sexuality. At issue is whether they can overcome their neurosis, their alienation from their own humanity. The answer is, no, it can't work, just as the woman (Florence) knows all along but the man (Richard) has to find out.
We never learn what has caused their alienation but it's not important. In the case of Richard, a successful computer geek, it is at least part of what has enabled him to immerse himself in work (some people believe that working long hours away from people have caused his neurosis but that is less likely). In Florence' case it enables her to earn her living performing lap dances for strangers. In both cases their coping mechanism is reinforced by its success.
Florence is more aware of her coping mechanism and therefore realistic about it. Richard, suffering from over work, loneliness, the pressure of an impending IPO and the recent death of his father hasn't got a clue. He meets Florence, learns that she is a stripper and invites her to a weekend in Vegas. After being turned down he offers to pay for her company (!). She is hip and knows nothing can come of this even after she later develops conflicting feelings.
The "exotic" dancing is at least erotic, a lot more than I can say for the films, Exotica, Dancing at the Blue Iguana, Showgirls and Striptease. That's probably because there was at least a psychological connection between the two characters. I did feel sympathetic to them unlike anyone in those other films. The woman is at her sexiest when she is fully clothed and beaming straight into the man's eyes, lending proof to the adage that sex is 90% psychology.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dysfunctional Relationship At Its Best May 14, 2001
A millionaire pays a stripper to spend a weekend with him in Vegas and they eventually (well, sort of) fall in love? If you are thinking "Pretty Woman", you couldn't be more off. "The Center of the World" is more reminiscent of "Leaving Las Vegas" with a hint of "Exotica", "Last Tango in Paris" and even some "In the Mood for Love". This movie starts off slowly and frequent flashback scenes are more than a little annoying at first, but it gets more and more interesting (and disturbing) as the story progresses. The cast is superb and the director Wayne Wang does his best Wong Kar-Wai imitation (and falls short, but hey, there is only one Wong Kar-Wai). The soundtrack is also excellent.
For those of you who are concerned about the film's "unrated" status: yes, it contains a lot of sexually explicit scenes, but it's nothing you haven't seen before, and it's all done quite tastefully.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great seller great product and super fast shipping everything A+++++++
Published 2 months ago by Kenneth R Dellett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by ARTHUR TRAVIS
3.0 out of 5 stars keeps you mind wondering
this movie is about a female that plays the drums by day and is a stripper by night,
she meets a computer prgamer and they make a very mis understood contract,
between... Read more
Published 7 months ago by sefriendlyguy
5.0 out of 5 stars So Sad, but Refreshingly Honest
I am a sucker for those not-happy-ending movies, especially when I sit there for a minute after it's over and I'm hit with the conflicted feelings, "Oh, potential love fails... Read more
Published 10 months ago by K. A. Bay
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so great...
... movie but wonderful Peter Sarsgaard. Love him and he is wonderful in this. Too bad the movie is not so great.
Published 10 months ago by Melissa Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Intrigueing Film
Very interesting movie. Love the soundtrack too!! Not many movies in my library, but this is one of them. recommend to anyone who likes independant type films.
Published 20 months ago by Guamrico
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at Something Real ~
Very few movies expresses what a women is thinking, Molly Parker expresses what the character is thinking almost breathlessly, the brief sentences and faintly pointed glances she... Read more
Published 22 months ago by W. Gaertner
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugly
Every scene in this movie is ugly. Can a hack director who hates women make Molly Parker look bad in every scene? Yes indeed! Read more
Published on February 11, 2012 by The Fashion Professor
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I thought
I was thinking there would be more passion or at least more sex. Too much time was wasted in this movie on scenes that were of no interest. Read more
Published on January 10, 2011 by Peppermint Patty
4.0 out of 5 stars The Center of the World
A very unusual, well acted, sexually explicit film that defies audience expectation at nearly every turn. Read more
Published on November 7, 2010 by Greg M. Enge
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