The Monkey's Mask

The Monkey's Mask


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A Sydney-based whodunit, with lesbian overtones, is erotic and infuriating. When the sex is good, the film flies off the screen. When the prose turns purple, the squirm count leaps beyond embarrassment.

Susie Porter plays Jill, a private detective, hired to find a missing student, called Mickey, a promiscuous teenage poetess. During the investigations, she meets Diana (Kelly McGillis), an American academic. "She's gritty. She's bright. She's a bit of alright," Jill thinks. She's also married to a supercilious English barrister.

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Diana was Mickey's tutor. She didn't think much of her poetry, despite its aggressive sexual imagery, but admired her spirit. Jill feels out of her depth in this elite intellectual snake pit, preferring to linger longer between the sheets with her new blonde American lover.

Diana swings both ways and is far more adventurous than Jill, who balks at the suggestion of a threesome. Jill's honesty, both in her sexuality and her work is admirable. Diana is not to be trusted, too much of a flirt and, like her husband, a liar.

When Mickey's body is found, half-eaten by dogs, things take a more serious turn, at least for Jill, and the suspects, older literary types, who tend to be pompous and full of their own self-importance, are a scabby bunch.

The script suffers from poetic pretensions, undermining Porter's strong central performance. Much of the acting is appalling, although not McGillis, immortalised as Tom Cruise's love interest in Top Gun, who takes a considerable risk with this role.

The final word goes to Jill: "I didn't know poetry could be as sticky as sex."

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2001
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A lesbian private eye investigates murder of teenage poetess.
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Director: Samantha Lang

Writer: Anne Kennedy, based on the novel by Dorothy Porter

Starring: Susie Porter, Kelly McGillis, Marton Csokas, Deborah Mailman, Abbie Cornish, William Zappa, Brendan Cowell, Jim Holt

Year: 2000

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


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