Hollywood may have come full circle.
The 1980s and 1990s saw a boom in the erotic thriller genre: films that revolve around hypersexual situations, often with protagonists falling for a would-be murderer. irregular mindThe new film from director Kelley Kali feels like a rebuttal to one of the most iconic erotic thrillers of the 1990s. basic instinct. That film still faces criticism for its portrayal of a bisexual temptress, unafraid of murdering male lovers, and whose relationship with another woman seems designed to mock men. irregular mind It doesn’t have the audacity of that movie, but it does have one overflowing attribute: It’s a damn sexy movie.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. irregular mind follows Billy (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), a beautiful young woman with a nasty habit of hitting on her ex-girlfriend and suffering from early-onset symptoms of dementia. She is immediately comforted by meeting Alex (Shannon Woodward), a successful photographer who seems to be the perfect match for her. But Billy’s recurring nightmares about her own murder and her feelings of déjà vu keep both women on edge. Something isn’t right here, and Billy needs to find out why, before her darkest dreams come true.
something in the air
irregular mind opens with a wild sex scene between two women which, while not featuring graphic nudity, does present a frank depiction of two women in sexual ecstasy. To add some context, basic instinct it almost got an X rating, not for violence, but for a scene showing a man performing oral sex on a woman.
That director Kali and studio Hulu feel comfortable enough showing female-female pleasure speaks to the progress made in queer and sexual representation over the past three decades. That first sex scene also sets a sensual tone for the rest of the story. For the first two acts of the film, Kali photographs the film with a dreamlike aesthetic, with lots of shadows, breezes, and dark, rich colors. The atmosphere feels as humid as the movie set in Miami. When Billy and his female consorts touch each other, it looks like they will burst into flames.
The success of irregular mind owes much to the casting of Richardson-Sellers and Woodward. Regardless of the real-life sexuality of either actress, the two have an undeniable sex appeal—the kind of heat that’s been missing from recent movies like siblings either spoiler alert. Those movies featured gay couples with negative integer chemistry that no amount of nudity or simulated sex could make up for. On the contrary, irregular mind much higher scores on the eroticism table. Kali proves her worth as a director by learning that true sensuality comes from a psychological connection between two characters. this is sexy, sexy stuff.
Bold decisions but bad last act twist
In fact, irregular mind it’s almost too sexy for its own good. The plot features a twist in the third act that should remain a secret from potential audiences. Suffice to say, it not only throws cold water on the Alex-Billy relationship, but almost derails the entire movie. Even if the first few scenes properly set up the narrative curveball, it still feels so wild, so absurd, that it almost sinks the entire movie on the spot. Richardson-Sellers really shines again here; his acting makes the movie work when it really shouldn’t, and his ability to portray ambiguous and even conflicting emotions in the same scene attests to his dramatic gifts and how much irregular mind rests on his shoulders.
With that said, the twist comes to what Kali and her writer, Allyson Morgan, really want to examine here: issues of domestic abuse. Queer characters have come a long way since basic instinct; they, too, can now be the stars of a movie, have their own stories and not just exist to A) horrify and disgust viewers or B) excite them by hinting “Hey, I’d leave my girlfriend for a guy in a second.” Here, Billy has no secret heterosexual desires, and irregular mind he revels in the woman-woman attraction.
The film also takes the extraordinary step of looking at psychological, emotional, and physical abuse in the context of a same-sex relationship. Very few movies have done so to date, and Kali & Morgan have the good taste to interpret abuse scenes as more than just a plot. Yeah basic instinctThe male lead looked like a jerk for letting lust lure him towards a would-be assassin. irregular mind goes deeper Billy doesn’t seem so stupid as someone deeply in love with the wrong person. His complicated feelings cause her to question his own decisions, and therefore the audience doesn’t have to.
For all the outrageousness of the movie’s big twist, irregular mind it still feels restricted when it comes to erotic thrillers. to evoke the basic instinct comparison again, nothing here has the extravagance of that movie. basic instinct It may seem homophobic and misogynistic by today’s standards (and it was back in 1992, by the way), but there’s a sense of pulp to that movie. It’s rubbish, but it’s fun.
Jagged Mind treats its subject with reverence, which is Admirable, though she could have used a dash of obscenity as well. That might have also helped warm up the ice bucket challenge that is the film’s left turn. Imagine how Richardson-Sellers would have approached an interrogation scene in which she was smoking like a chain and talking about sex with cocaine.
Maybe Kali and Morgan and Richardson-Sellers will make that movie one day. So far, they have created a very polished, if flawed movie that features some genuine emotions and a very sexy tone. Kali doesn’t want to excite, she wants to provoke thoughts and conversations about how sexual attraction can blind people to destructive and even deadly situations. Yeah basic instinct billed as an erotic thriller by combining ultraviolence and graphic nudity into pop trash, irregular mind earns distinction through real eroticism and provocative moral questions. That should appeal to the public, no matter how flawed you are as a lover.
Erotic thrillers of the 1990s commented on that era’s convergence of queer liberation, women in power, and AIDS. That irregular mind says about the present moment is even more intriguing.
Jagged Mind debuts on Hulu on June 15.