on October 14, 2005
SPOILERS. There are many ways to "see" "9 1/2 Weeks", from watching only the sex scenes to looking for "degrading to women" parts. The movie is a lot more than that. It shows Mickey Rourke as "John" in the only way available to him to feel and express love and desire. His lack of the full emotional range results in his needing highly controlled situations to get excited. He loves Elizabeth's beauty, but can't see-can't love HER, even though she is very lovable. He treats her like a pretty object. He's so disconnected from his own feelings, he talks very little, always in a controlled way. He has no interest in what Elizabeth feels-only in how she reacts to the situations he sets up.
He observes her reactions closely with pleasure and amusement, like studying an insect under a microscope; he is a spectator rather than a participant. He cannot feel, and makes her feel instead, to see what it's like ("I saw myself in you" and "What does it feel like to be out of control!", he told her).
Elizabeth liked him very much from the first moment she saw him. She thought this was a relationship like most others so she invites him to meet her friends. When he refuses, she submits-she likes him so much that she starts going along with HIS shaping of their relationship.
The little "normal" voice inside her speaks again, when she asks, "Aren't you interested whether I like the dress?", after he buys her clothes of his own choice. His answer is telling: "No, I'm not", spoken with a tender, beguiling, confusing smile, and soft, caressing voice, which-to her- belie the truth of his words. She just can't put together in her mind his tenderness, soft voice, polite manners, good looks, expensive gifts, breakfast in bed, "I want to take care of you", "I love you Elizabeth" with his actual indifference to her feelings,and his progressively humiliating and hurtful demands.
He even whispered "I love you" in her ear the moment before he went to open the door to the prostitute he had arranged to visit them-you'll hear it if the volume is up.
She continues going along with his demands, trying to please him, until the moment comes when she realizes he will not give her any of the loving interest that his tender smile and soft voice promised her at the beginning. She obviously has fallen in love with him, and as she walks away for the last time from his place, she turns her head back hopefully, crying, in case he has ran after her-still hoping for a real sign of love from him, in spite of her best sense that this guy is incapable of love as we know it. Just like most women would. Meanwhile, he stands frozen, close to tears, willing her to come back "...until I count to 50...", but unable to just open that door and catch her.
There were two things that the director used to tell us clearly that John was a control freak; shots of his closet with the evenly spaced hangers as if with a ruler and lots of identical shirts, pants, and coats and nothing else, and his desk drawer, with everything in its place, and a place for everything, chillingly neat. He was a man with a total need to control his environment (usually resulting from high anxiety).
Also, how he avoided personal involvement is shown in their first conversation at the Italian restaurant: Here he was sitting with a lovely, sexy woman who obviously likes him, and his conversation was not flirtacious, not about him, not about her, but the history of murders in the restaurant. Maybe only someone who has met a man with these outward signs and symptoms can connect them to the huge emotional lack of his feelings.
And the much talked-about sexual scenes are vital to the story because that was ALL their interaction, there was no usual closeness and talks about each other's life, family, etc.The director makes that clear, showing us Elizabeth's attempt at sharing a funny tidbit about her dead uncle: John ends that attempt with his comment about his own Stock Exchange screens.
A very accurate psychological portrait of a highly attractive man unable to love, with a twisted attitude towards relationships, and a woman who is soft and hopeful for 9 1/2 weeks, before she leaves him when the pain becomes too much.
It is so interesting to see that at no time does he question his behavior towards her-at no time does he apologize. He behaves as if it is the most natural thing to ask of her what he asks.
Only those who have known people like that will realize how correct the portrayal in the movie is-and I have.
Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger were superb in these highly nuanced roles, with award-meriting performances. "9 1/2 weeks" is a psychological drama of great depth and accuracy, told beautifuly on the screen.
I read the book by Elizatheth McNeill,ISBN: 0060746394. I tried to find info. about her on the web, publishing house, etc. Nothing. There is another Elizabeth McNeill at Severn House Publishers, author of : The Lady Of Cawnpore. Press Relations. Hot News. Unforgettable. The Last Cocktail Party. A Bombay Affair. The Golden Days.
So it is not the same Elizabeth McNeill who wrote "9 1/2 Weeks, the memoir of a love affair". That McNeill has vanished.
All I can say is that they should have made two movies: the one they made, and another one, with the same actors, true to the book, to be released later. The book is short, written in an amazingly personal, simple,raw way, which-having seen the film-brought it to life. It does not have one extraneous word in it. I can understand why they could not make the movie as the book really was. The book was truly sadistic-she was tied to the leg of the table for example. The film, even though much milder than the book, succeeded very well in portraying John as the author lived him. The book does round out the experience, and the ending is very different than the film's. The book really cemented my opinion that this story did happen.
on March 15, 2000
I keep seeing reviews; "a high budget porno" or "a dull, boring story with sadistic sex scenes". This movie is so different from these decriptions, it makes me wonder if these people talked, read or played chess through out the entire movie only glancing up occasionally. Mickey Rouke is so subtle with his expressions and dialogue that he creates that mystique that portrays John. Mixed with good looks, a high calibre job (Wall St. Money Market Dealer) & the most amazing apartments money can buy, Kim Basinger (Elizabeth) could not help but be curious. Kim Basingers use of nervous twitches and shy looks makes this her best performance by far. 2 great performances and the best use of a camera, I have seen, makes this 80's style New York flick a stylish, never to forget experience. The scenes in the equestian shop, Farnswoth house, the bed shop, the clock tower are just so well done. Every time you see this movie, it becomes more classy as images of New York's inner city life are portrayed beautifully. Forget the sex scenes, (yeah, they are neccessary) this movie really moves you & keeps images cemented in your mind for a long time. "Elizabeth, please come back before I count to 50...1, 2, 3.."
on October 18, 2006
For the longest time, I've steered clear from this movie because I once overheard my mother say to her friend,
"Oh my God, I had to walk out in the middle of this filthy movie because it had no respect for food..."
That was sometime in 1987.
A few years ago, I thought I'd be rebellious and watch the movie anyway.
Hell, my mom didn't have to know.
Plus I was definately old enough...
On the contrary to my initially biased impression, this movie, for some reason wasn't as blatantly "filthy" to me as how my mother described. Rather, it was an interesting story about a woman captivated in a torturous love affair that was ever so consuming - and how she managed to free herself from an addiction to a numb lover who was equivalent to a cruel child.
In other words, I really liked it. :)
And for the record - I still have no problems eating strawberries.
Then again, who with 20/20 vision can say "No" to pre-surgery Mickey Rourke??
on October 14, 2007
Most of the reviews here are by people who were evidently expecting a soft-porn sex movie, and their disappointment tells more about them than the movie. They miss the point by focusing only on the BDSM in the relationship between Elizabeth (Kim Basinger) and John (Mickey Rourke). There is a serious, well-told story here that people apparently obsessed with sex seem to miss.
The movie actually has three narrative perspectives that run concurrently through the film: the evolving relationship between Elizabeth and John; the evolving relationship between Elizabeth and the reclusive artist Farnsworth; and Elizabeth's interactions in NY art circles through her work at a gallery. In the first, John, who wears nothing but black suits and white shirts and lives in a colorless and impersonal apartment, is shown to be able to feel nothing except through extreme forms of sexual expression. In the second, Elizabeth gradually comprehends the mystical revelry of pure sensation--Farnsworth examining the fish he has caught--that also comes through in his painting. The last--Elizabeth's art world--is the intersection of the two, between the art of pure sensation and the artifice of society and its conventions. In the film, Elizabeth grows in all three narrative worlds and in the end achieves a kind of liberation of self, demonstrated by simply leaving John.
The film's photography is gorgeous, using darkness and rays of light to set the shifting contexts of sensuality and sensation throughout. Rourke and Basinger are both superb in their roles--John who is painfully frozen in his incapacity to feel, and Elizabeth who grows visibly in self awareness over the course of the film.
This is a spellbinding, provocative and deeply humanistic movie about how we sense the world. It bears repeated watching.
on May 1, 2006
"9 1/2 Weeks" is an erotic thriller about the romance between Elizabeth (Kim Basinger) and John (Mickey Rourke). As the name implies, their time together is not long, but without a doubt steamy and memorable. John had his eye on Elizabeth from the beginning and swooped down like a hawk, while she could not resist his advances.
Elizabeth falls in love with him very fast, and even as John becomes increasingly controlling and dominating, she still cannot break free from his charms. He showers her with gifts almost continuously, but I hardly think they had much affect on her, since it was him and his excitement she seemed to like most. The interactions and intimacy between two people are taken to a high level as she is blindfolded and he touches her body with ice cubes, as he feeds her with her eyes closed, and has sexual encounters with her in places such as a back alley and a clock tower. The film does have more than a few erotic/sexual scenes, but not as vulgar as it could be, leaving some things to the imagination.
Because I really did not know what to expect with John and if and when he would snap from being calm to angry, I was on edge for most of the movie. Actually, he retained his exterior calmness even when he was dominating her, giving him a true covertly hostile personality. On the other hand, Elizabeth was often timid and just wanted to be loved. Moreover, although she may not have enjoyed all the games he wanted to play, it did look like she enjoyed much of them. Seeing them both interact will leave an impression on you and may rank among one of the most memorable films about lust you may ever watch.