RISK, a down-beat, inconclusive story of a dysfunctional relationship, tinkers with the gender conventions of the lovers-on-the-run narrative. First-time director Deirdre Fishel gives us a self-sufficient woman who enters a doomed love affair with a weak, clinging, pitiably manipulative
Maya (Karen Sillas) is an artist's model and diffident party girl bored with her life and acquaintances. On a bus one day, she meets Joe (David Ilku), a loser on the lam and apprentice criminal. They're shortly entwined in a passionate sexual relationship, and soon enough, they grab a station
wagon for a spontaneous joyride, winding up at Joe's sister's place in upstate New York. The sister, Nicki (Molly Price), is very pregnant; put-upon husband Karl (Jack Gwaltney) can't forget how Joe left him in the lurch the last time he came scrounging for work. Nicki reveals Joe's troubled past
to Maya, while Joe quickly proves to be as useless as Karl already believes him to be. Helping Karl with some light construction, he makes a costly mistake and tries to rectify it by stealing some lumber from a nearby worksite. Karl's furious, the two come to blows, and Joe takes off with Maya.
They rent a cabin by the week and work for a local farmer shoveling manure.
When torrential rains place first financial and then mounting psychological burdens on the couple, Joe finally snaps, confessing a history of sexual abuse by his father and incest with his sister, possibly resulting in her current pregnancy. Nicki shows up to tell them they're wanted by the
police for stealing lumber, and they plan a getaway by bus. In the men's room of the bus station, Joe puts a gun in his mouth and shoots himself despite Maya's pleading. In a coda, Maya is seen in her own bathtub, scrubbing herself savagely.
Part love story, part critique of a mutually exploitative relationship, RISK never seems able to decide whether it's pushing romance or neo-realism. Confined to one-set interiors by a skimpy production budget, it's depressing and claustrophobic; a week's worth of rain and the literal equivalent
of cabin fever don't help. What might have provided welcome diversion--the character turns and roadside anecdotes which remain the hallmarks of the road picture--are absent altogether, subordinated to the dysfunctional groping and sparring of two aimless, unengaging young lovers. (Violence,nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: RISK, a down-beat, inconclusive story of a dysfunctional relationship, tinkers with the gender conventions of the lovers-on-the-run narrative. First-time director Deirdre Fishel gives us a self-sufficient woman who enters a doomed love affair with a weak,… (more)