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The Center of the World
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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
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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.
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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I actually bought this movie in 2001 on DVD, and finally settled down to watch it this week.
Even after reading through the reviews, I decided to judge this movie for... Read more
Movie is just okay at best. I was hoping for a better movie, it is an independent movie but even so the camera quality is very poor and grainy.Published 17 months ago by Aaron Gerber
An in depth study of some real deep psychological issues. Done really well. Believable characters.Published 18 months ago by Responder
interesting film. i really liked it. not for the kids though. A+++++++++Published 20 months ago by Dita von Krieg
Great seller great product and super fast shipping everything A+++++++Published 23 months ago by Kenneth R Dellett
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