Released: Oct 01st, 1999
Running Time: 116
Director: Ren Savant
Company: Vivid Entertainment Group
Cast: Frank Towers, Devin Wolf, Jewel Valmont, Lilli Louise, Alexandra Silk, Regan Starr, Steve Taylor, Rhiannon (I), Janine Lindemulder, Eric Star, Ian Daniels, Heaven Leigh, Paul (I), Steve Peters, James Bonn, Dee (I), Julia Ann, Lola (I), Veronica (I), Azlea Antistia, Candy Hill, Kyle Stone (straight), Michael J. Cox, Domonique DeWitt, Johnny Peters
Critical Rating: Not Yet Rated
A truly remarkable feature that should fly out the door in the hands of couples and singles alike.
While Robyn Dyer is correctly identified both on the box and in the credits as the director, the Vivid auteur has not changed his name to Ren Savant. This is important to note as Savant is almost certain to be a strong contender for Best Director in this year's film category
And don't let the opening video footage from last year's CES fool you - this is definitely a film, and a remarkable one at that. In fact, you could easily count on just a few of your fingers the number of adult films that have achieved this level of excellence. With his fantasy-laden fable built thematically around the seven deadly sins, Savant (a special gold star to anyone who spots the director's Hitchcockesque cameo) has crafted a fascinating, entertaining and genuinely inspired work.
The list of elements SDS has to recommend it is a long one: The script is clever and intelligent, with the kind of sharp, witty dialogue we rarely get in porn. The performances are equally impressive. Too often in adult, what was sharp, witty dialogue more closely resembles the stiff ramblings of a junior-high thespian coming out of the other end of the performer's mouths. This script remains intact, and given the fact that many of the SDS cast members aren't well known for their acting abilities (okay - John Lee's incredibly stiff non-sex performance in the "Gluttony" segment leaves a lot to be desired, but he's the sole, embarrassing standout), this credit goes all the more to director Savant.
Essentially a series of seven interwoven vignettes, each depicts a sexual morality play reflecting one of the seven mortal sins. In "Envy," the first (and arguably strongest) of the scenes, Janine gives absolutely the finest acting performance of her career playing both herself and a dumpy fan who is obsessed with Vivid's icy Sapphic icon. In what is truly a brilliant turn before the lens, Janine delivers a particularly biting effort when the "fan" snaps and begins systematically destroying her own Janine altar, piece by piece. When Janine-as-stalker sits before a roaring fire gleefully shredding her own slicks and box covers, you can't resist reflecting on the nature of this business, the effect it has on the women who work in it, and the source for this wellspring of genuine emotion from one of the industry's preeminent performers.
"Envy" climaxes with Janine having sex with herself. The effect is so well realized, utilizing Julia Ann as a faceless body double, that you actually stop looking for the seams in the illusion and buy into it. That is about the highest praise that can be paid to such a sequence. That, and the fact that the sex is really hot.
The same can be said for every segment of the movie. Each displays its own unique brilliance, either in the writing, the performance, the conception or the execution, and often in all of the above - without sacrificing some of the hottest sex any film in recent years can lay claim to.
Also rare for porn is the ability to stylistically distinguish ideas on the screen, but here, too SDS succeeds where so many have failed. "Lust" features Candy Hill fantasizing incessantly about everyone she meets, and everything she sees (the melon bit is superbly done). "Gluttony" is shot like an Andrew Blake film, so fitting for its snotty, rich protagonists, while "Pride" has a documentary feel that suits it well. "Anger" has a fast-paced, hectic editing style while "Sloth" naturally features more static photography and laid-back editing.
Also a standout is "Greed," the closing scene, which stars Michael J. Cox, as a wealthy televangelist (we've been seeing him throughout the film) who finally gets more of a good thin than he can handle in a bit that pays homage to John Landis' segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Strong pre-noms for direction, editing, and music. Acting nods to Janine, Michael J. Cox and Regan Starr, and sex scene pre-noms to the Janine/Julia Ann duo, the Veronica/Jewel Valmont/Johnny Peters threeway, and to Candy Hill and all her gangbang boys.