Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Opposite Of Sex (1998) Film Review
The Opposite Of Sex
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
As an antidote to Sleepless In Seattle, this emotional grenade explodes in the lovecote. Its message is nut tough - sex is a deadly weapon. There is Aids and the transmitted diseases, but writer/director, Don Roos, is more interested in mental torture. He doesn't baulk at the final solution, although it's been done before. He likes his comedy black, no sugar, with a vodka chaser. He is definitely on the side of the bitches. At 16, Deedee (Christina Ricci) runs away from her dysfunctional Louisiana home. She's foul-mouthed, gutter-wise and, shock! horror!, a smoker. What she wants, she takes. What she doesn't want, she leaves for the other suckers.
She lands up with her half brother, Bill (Martin Donovan), a teacher in Indiana. He is quiet and decent and gay. His longtime partner has just died and already a hunky, naive replacement, called Matt, has moved in. Also, his late lover's sister, Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), is hanging around, assuming the role of moral arbiter.
Into this menage-a-not-quite-cosy bursts Deedee, like a white-trashed Tasmanian devil. Lucia recognises trouble at once and is quickly dubbed Cruella by the teen minx, who proceeds to seduce Matt, persuade him he's fathering her unborn child, steal $10,000 of Bill's money and leg it to LA. Bill, meanwhile, is falsely accused of sexual harassment by Matt's ex-beau, a hysterical high school queen, called Jason. The local education board is not amused and suspends Bill, who treats the loss of his bedmate and probable loss of his job as a mild inconvenience. He is phlegmatic to the point of passivity, proving that nice guys get dumped on because they enjoy cleaning up.
The humour has a viciousness that squeals. Ricci captures the ruthless spirit of a selfish one-tracker with unapologetic enthusiasm. When first she appeared on the scene in Mermaids (1990), she was so bright, she blinded critics and cinema-goers alike. She's grown up now, retaining an individual attitude (she's never going to play Tom Hanks' daughter) that punches you in the throat if you so much as doubt her ability to be bad. Kudrow acts against type and makes a compelling frustrated spinster, dying for the wrong guy. Donovan, who has built a career in Hal Hartley movies, is so laid back, he's fast losing the ability to respond. The opposite of sex isn't death, as you might expect, but conversation.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001