The misleadingly titled LIVE NUDE GIRLS offers thoughtful conversation and intense personality conflicts as six 30-ish women discuss their sexuality at a bachelorette party. The talky but consistently surprising and often hilarious film has a strong ensemble cast and is cleverly scripted
by first-time writer-director Julianna Lavin.
Jamie (Kim Cattrall) is a flighty B-movie actress who's about to enter into her third marriage. A party for her is hosted by Georgina (Lora Zane), a bisexual whose rocky relationship with her live-in partner Chris (Olivia d'Abo) is threatened by Georgina's attraction to a male co-worker.
Jamie and Georgina are joined at the party by lifelong friends Marcy (Cynthia Stevenson), a seemingly prim accountant who is being stalked by a house painter with whom she had a fling; Jill (Dana Delany), a racy, gossipy married woman who's ambivalent about her second pregnancy; and Jill's older
sister, Rachel (Laila Robins), whose wealth and upper-class tastes don't make her feel better about being single and childless.
Jamie arrives at the party, ready to call off her wedding because her fiance Jerome's friends hired a stripper for his bachelor party. Her distress is one-upped by the antipathy between the sisters, whose petty jealousies erupt into rage and tears when Rachel discovers Jill's unwanted pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Marcy gets drunk and befriends Chris, and Georgina ponders her future.
In between the arguments and disclosures, the five friends tell stories about their sex lives. The stories range from Jamie seducing a young Greenpeace canvasser, to Jill's fantasy of being spanked by a mob boss, to Marcy's fantasy of herself as Barbie, being spied on as she visits a public
restroom. The torn relationships between Jill and Rachel, and Georgina and Chris, aren't patched up during the evening. But Jamie does decide to carry on with her upcoming marriage when she discovers that her doting fiance has canceled the stripper, and all six women wake the next morning with a
better understanding of themselves and each other.
Perhaps the film's title is a joke at the expense of men who would flock to see "live nude girls" and then be shocked to discover women talking frankly about sex. Such female bonding hasn't been filmed often and may make men uncomfortable. LIVE NUDE GIRLS flawlessly uses dialogue to develop the
women's personalities and unveil their personal crises. Though the film is mostly conversation, it is fast-paced and creatively presented, especially the hilarious flashbacks, including dead-on depictions of the 1970s, and the melodramatic sequence where Jamie pleads with her ex-husband to return
and winds up seducing the Greenpeace teenager.
Even better are the scenes where the women wonder what kind of crazy antics Jerome and his pals are up to, and the film cuts to the geeky men making bets on things like how much money it would take for them to put their hands into toilets.
The ensemble cast is outstanding, especially d'Abo and Stevenson. Sharply written peripheral characters and a few in-jokes spice up the film. The frank dialogue never seems forced or unrealistic, which allows the women's personalities to resonate beyond their somewhat stereotypical basic natures.
The ending wisely leaves a few loose ends, and despite the use of flashbacks and several fantasy sequences, LIVE NUDE GIRLS is a realistic and authentic film that doesn't take itself too seriously. (Extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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