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The Center of the World

3.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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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

Special Features


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:
    Not Rated
  • 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 (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LPZW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,658 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Center of the World" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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 terms...no 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 thing...love.
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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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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By A Customer on May 29, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD
Think the premise of "Pretty Woman," but more firmly grounded in the real world, and you might get close to what "The Center of the World" is all about. This film abandons the glamourized Hollywood notions of sex workers, and doesn't engage in the pat, happy ending that we saw in "Pretty Woman"... and it is a far better film for it. Furthermore, Molly Parker is far more exotically lovely than Julia Roberts could even hope to be, and a better actress to boot.
In short, if you're looking for a romantic escapist fantasy about a sex worker redeemed by the love of a good man, look elsewhere -- this film is far more complex than that.
Comparisons to "Pretty Woman" do seem inevitable however, to the point that I wonder if the director and writers weren't crafting this film as a direct response to that one, a way of saying, "Whoa boy, reality check!" The premise is familiar at least. Richard (Peter Saarsgard) is wealthy but lonely after a breakup with his girlfriend two years before. He meets Florence (Molly Parker) in a coffee shop and finds out that she is a stripper. He visits her at the strip club where she works (nicely named Pandora's Box), and is so intrigued by her that he offers her $10,000 to spend three days with him in Las Vegas. She agrees, with a number of strict conditions, including limiting the number of hours she is required to "work," and limiting the acts she will perform. "No kissing on the mouth" (sounds familiar, no?) and "no penetration" are among her limitations.
From this familiar territory, though, the film explores new ground. Richard and Florence get to know one another as they spend more time together, and Florence finds out that Richard isn't such a bad guy, just lonely. "Why do you have to be so nice?
Read more ›
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