Based on a case history from the book, Sex and the Criminal Mind, this film is an exceedingly tame slice of erotica. Bodices pop open, hungry lips seek to be fed, and flaming passions burn with all the ardor of a Hardy Boy getting pecked on the cheek by Mrs. Cleaver.
Dedicated to bettering his lot in 1910 Milwaukee, honorable orphan Edward Broder (Neil Patrick Harris) becomes a family fixture at the home of sewing machine magnate Joe Heldman (Len Cariou). When best buddy and heir apparent Karl Heldman (Toby Proctor) dies in an influenza epidemic, romantically
quixotic Mrs. Krista Heldman (Anne Archer) regards Edward not so much as a second son but as a surrogate husband.
Although the sexually-predatory Krista persuades her teen lover to run away with her, proprietary Joe finds them, forgives his spouse, and banishes feckless Edward forever. Hypocritically professing fidelity, Krista installs Edward in her attic. When possible detection by outsiders threatens, she
cajoles Joe into relocating to Los Angeles.
Content to have Joe bring home the bacon while Edward serves other practical purposes, the years pass happily, until Krista demands that pliable Edward allow her the luxury of other bedmates. One day, the unthinkable happens after Joe and Krista argue vociferously. Scurrying from his hiding place,
selfless Edward shoots down an astonished Joe. The scandalous crime of passion does not result in convictions for either Krista or Edward.
Certainly this movie will provide realtors with a whole new selling angle for three-story houses. Unlike THE BLISS OF MRS. BLOSSOM (1968), which played a similar prisoner-of-love story line for laughs, this asthmatic heavy-breather treats its obsessive material seriously, with no flair for
showcasing the tale's inherent suspense or shocking abnormal psychology. Instead, THE MAN IN THE ATTIC is a well-appointed soap opera, sort of like "Days of Our Lives" detouring through a flashback to 1910.
Although rich in prurient interest, this manicured period romance is a too-tasteful glimpse into the consequences of sexual greed. As the principals undress, there's never a sense of muss or fuss or of ecstatic exclamations that might give away the game. Are they extolling some form of Zen sex
that's been purified of pleasure? Prissy Archer tackles her seductress role as if she were playing Miss Jean Brodie at a sex education class; Harris plays the love machine as if he were a grocery boy and Archer's body were just something he had to shelve for quick sale.
Attaining neither the giddy excess of director Zalman King nor the campy delirium of DESPERATE REMEDIES (1994), THE MAN IN THE ATTIC is a sex film with no interest in getting down and dirty. (Sexual situations, violence.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on a case history from the book, Sex and the Criminal Mind, this film is an exceedingly tame slice of erotica. Bodices pop open, hungry lips seek to be fed, and flaming passions burn with all the ardor of a Hardy Boy getting pecked on the cheek by Mr… (more)