Strange Fits Of Passion

There's a thin line between quirky and irritating, and Australian director Elise McCredie has overstepped it. Her first film, a willfully idiosyncratic look at love's labors seen through the eyes of a twenty-something virgin, is fun for a while, but soon turns grating before ending on a startlingly tragic note. A young woman credited only as "She" (Michela...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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There's a thin line between quirky and irritating, and Australian director Elise McCredie has overstepped it. Her first film, a willfully idiosyncratic look at love's labors seen through the eyes of a twenty-something virgin, is fun for a while, but soon turns grating before ending on a startlingly tragic note. A young woman credited only as "She" (Michela Noonan) is busy shelving books at the secondhand bookshop where she works when she notices a handsome, green-eyed shoplifter named Francis (Jack Finsterer) stuffing a copy of Charles Bukowski's Women down his pants. She busts him, he hits on her, she panics and tells him to take a hike. She then spends the rest of the film searching for "St. Francis" and preparing herself for sexual salvation, which she defines as losing her awkward viriginity. But she's not sure where to start — in fact, she's not sure of anything when it comes to matters of the heart. So she enlists the help of her best friend Jimmy (Mitchell Butel), who seems to be in a satisfying relationship with his boyfriend Simon (Nathan Page). Operating on the theory that you never find someone when you're looking, and noting that his friend's insecurity leads her to a pattern of pre-emptive rejection, Jimmy suggests she start with someone she doesn't like. She sets about seducing first her sleazy Spanish instructor (Steve Adams), then, in a moment of mistaken self-realization, a lonely charity worker (Anni Finsterer) whom our heroine assumes is gay. Set to a few poppy tunes by Herman's Hermits, the film has a certain off-beat style, and the script is peppered with clever literary references and small bits of wisdom about love at century's end. But it fails as a sexual comedy of manners: There's nothing terribly sexy about sexual dysfunction, and nothing especially funny about it, either. It's also hard to really engage with McCredie's heroine and sympathize with her plight when it's so easy to see what the problem is: She's a shrill, sniveling pill who makes Bridget Jones look the very model of self-sufficiency. In a moment of pique, Jimmy accuses her of being a "miserable, frigid bitch," and, frankly, it's hard to argue.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: There's a thin line between quirky and irritating, and Australian director Elise McCredie has overstepped it. Her first film, a willfully idiosyncratic look at love's labors seen through the eyes of a twenty-something virgin, is fun for a while, but soon t… (more)

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