Arguably a failure by conventional standards, LOVE CRIMES, a low-budget commercial foray by political filmmaker Lizzie Borden (BORN IN FLAMES, WORKING GIRLS), nevertheless effectively raises provocative questions about relations between the sexes within the context of a generic potboiler
addled by underdeveloped characters and muddled plotting.
Inspired by real events, LOVE CRIMES revolves around a sex criminal (SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY heavy Patrick Bergin) who represents himself as top fashion photographer "David Hanover" and uses the promise of a modelling career to lure victims from Atlanta-area shopping malls. He takes them back to
their homes where he coerces them into being photographed in humiliating, sexually compromising poses. He then seduces and robs them, leaving the victims, typically lower-middle-class single career women, reluctant to press charges.
Herself a victim of childhood abuse, Atlanta assistant district attorney Dana Greenway (Sean Young) becomes obsessed with putting Hanover away, neglecting her active cases despite her inability to convince any of Hanover's victims to swear out a complaint. Her quest leads her to Savannah, where
Hanover's activities show a pattern of escalating violence, including the severe beating of his latest victim. Lacking the support of either her own office or the local police, Greenway engages in a dangerous one-on-one game of cat-and-mouse with Hanover, putting herself in the position of a
Though informed by a feminist sensibility, LOVE CRIMES is anything but a politically one-note movie. If anything, it suffers from an excess of ambiguity in its heroine and villain, well portrayed by unusually high-powered stars for a low-budget movie. Greenway is haunted by unresolved childhood
traumas, presented in hazy flashbacks, in which, apparently, her abusive, womanizing father would lock her in a closet whenever he brought women home. He later accidentally kills one of his conquests who discovers the youngster cowering in the closet and tries to rescue her.
Presumably because of her childhood experiences, Greenway finds herself conflicted about Hanover, simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to him. Hanover is less developed. However, he is shown to be a tormented victim of his uncontrollable impulses to degrade women and horrified by his growing
violent tendencies. His victims, many of them homely and lonely, are also conflicted about--and soiled by--Hanover's exploitation of their unfulfilled desires to be loved and lusted after.
At her best and most audacious, Borden uses a standard police thriller plot to paint a bleak though believable picture of a society in which both men and women are forced into roles that deny healthy sexuality and all but sanction coercion and self-loathing as normal parts of human sexual
relations. It is thus a film, in Greenway's words, that probes the "grey area between seduction and rape" in which Hanover operates. The problem is that, in this case at least, an idea-driven film doesn't translate well into compelling drama.
Neither Greenway nor Hanover is developed much beyond the sum totals of their neuroses and the plotting suffers from an unengaging choppiness that suggests some tinkering in the editing room to make the film more generically conventional. (This, in fact, was precisely the case. Before the film's
video release, however, Borden was given the opportunity to retool the film and reinsert several minutes of deleted footage; she seized the chance, of course.) The result, unfortunately, is only to draw undue attention to the kinds of character and plot implausibilities that, in a better-crafted
film, would sail by in the wake of the dramatic momentum LOVE CRIMES never really develops.
Despite the film's shortcomings, Borden makes a strong enough case here that slickness isn't everything as she herself works to resolve her distinctively personal style of political filmmaking with the demands of a commercial marketplace that tends to shun both personality and politics. (Adultsituations, nudity, profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Arguably a failure by conventional standards, LOVE CRIMES, a low-budget commercial foray by political filmmaker Lizzie Borden (BORN IN FLAMES, WORKING GIRLS), nevertheless effectively raises provocative questions about relations between the sexes within th… (more)