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
) 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