Sunday, February 21, 2010

Released this week on DVD: "Women in Trouble"


Grade: D

To judge by the swelling bosoms spilling out of the frame, the lingerie bill for Women in Trouble must have been estimable. An ensemble piece that never coheres despite a clutch of appealing actresses -- notably Carla Gugino and Emmanuelle Chriqui -- this movie was written and directed by Sebastian Guitierrez, whose screenplay credits include The Big Bounce (the remake), Gothika and Snakes on a Plane. It's a discouraging list, true, but Gugino, an interesting actress who has yet to find a big-screen career worthy of her, seemed reason alone to take the chance. (And Robyn Hitchcock did the score.)

She wasn't, though the fault is scarcely hers, or Hitchcock's. Although some early flashes of color suggest that Guitierrez is headed for Almodovar country, he soon settles into discount Robert Altman: a character mosaic with a smattering of different if fundamentally homogeneous Los Angeles women yammering about love, sex, whatever. (Josh Brolin, meanwhile, tries out a British accent in one story thread while Simon Baker gives a little dignity to another.)

The amateurish production values might be pardonable if the cliches -- the hard-core porn star with the soft heart, the therapist who needs to heal herself -- inside the poorly lighted, badly shot images weren't so absurd and often insulting. Guitierrez, as suggested by all the decolletage, appears to be a breast man. Too bad he didn't set his sights higher.

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