Purportedly a smoldering epic about sadomasochism (based on a steamy novel by Elizabeth McNeill), this film hedges almost every bet. It's an exploitation film with very little to exploit. John (Mickey Rourke) is an affluent Wall Street arbitrageur; Elizabeth (Kim Basinger) is a freshly divorced art gallery owner in Manhattan's fashionable SoHo district. They first see each other in a Chinese poultry market, and it's lust at first sight. They meet again later at a flea market, whereupon he whisks her to his houseboat on the Hudson River. But sex turns into something more than simple frolicking, since John enjoys blindfolds, light bondage, whipped cream, and other piquant erotic variations that will shock anyone who's never listened to Doctor Ruth. (While every other arbitrageur of the period was working 80-hour weeks, John appears to have limitless time to devote to his libidinous pursuits.) At any rate, the slim plot virtually disappears beneath a stylistic crazy-quilt of "atmospheric" MTV-style set pieces. Although director Adrian Lyne argued that studio-mandated cuts undermined what he insisted was a serious picture, the subsequent release to video of various "uncut" versions has failed to reveal the missing substance of NINE 1/2 WEEKS. As so often happens in Hollywood, what is advertised as daring and provocative turns out to be glib, essentially tame, and largely soporific.