“Erotique” Aims for the Mind – and Misses

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 6, 1994

2 stars

 Directed by Lizzie Borden, Monika Treut and Clara Law.
Running time: 90 minutes. No MPAA rating (no one under 17 admitted).
Now showing at the Fine Arts and Hinsdale theaters.

If male directors had made “Erotique,” the film would have been called soft-core porn. But because women were employed to direct the movie’s three vignettes, “Erotique” is being billed as “intelligent erotica.”

Whatever.

The result is the same – a film where sex is more important than content and where women’s – not men’s – bodies serve as the primary objects of titillation. While men’s naughty bits are protectively hidden from curious eyes, the camera lovingly lingers on shots of full frontal female nudity.

Priscilla Barnes“Erotique,” which opened Friday night at the Fine Arts Theatre, contains no big names, though TV fans will recognize Priscilla Barnes. In a brilliant bit of perverse casting, German director Monika Treut chose the toothy “Three’s Company” star to portray a controlling lesbian businesswoman in her vignette “Taboo Parlor.”

As Claire, Barnes is calculated and cold to everyone except to her young lover Julia (Camilla Soeberg). Claire loves Julia enough to grant her a wish – a male partner for a threesome. The surprising ending gives new meaning to the term “explosive sex.”

The film starts with Lizzie Borden’s “Let’s Talk About Sex.” As aspiring actress and employed phone sex operator Rosie, Kamala Lopez-Dawson is a sassy scene stealer. Unfortunately, while she is supposed to represent women asserting their sexual power, she ultimately gives in to the man’s fantasy.

Clara Law’s “Wonton Soup” closes the movie with a funny vignette about young Chinese lovers Adrian (Tim Lounibos), who is from Australia, and Ann (Hayley Man), who lives in Hong Kong. Their relationship had always been about one thing – sex. And it’s not enough for Ann anymore. But when Adrian realizes he has fallen in love with Ann, he seeks advice from his uncle, who  teaches Adrian some sexual positions that make the Kama Sutra look like child’s play.

In a touching bit of irony, the uncle speaks with his own French girlfriend in her native tongue, making it clear he has more in common with a woman of a different race than Adrian and Ann, whose only common interest is sex.

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