The Principles Of Lust


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Paul (Alec Newman) is a bit lost in life. A struggling Scottish writer on the dole, he stumbles across Juliette (Sienna Guillory) at an art installation, which features a video of him swimming naked in a tank. She falls for his banter and the pair of them embark on a passionate affair.

Next up, Paul meets Billy (Marc Warren), a mad, pugilistic photographer with misogynistic tendencies. Billy introduces Paul to Hole (Lara Clifton), a law student, stripper and drug buddy. Billy's living revolves around ingratiating youngsters on the estate to bare-knuckle fights, where he photographs them while the locals wage bets on whichever kid can punch, kick and bite the other to a bare pulp first.

Meanwhile, Paul moves in with Juliette to look after her young son (Alex Popplewell) and write his book. But under the influence of Billy's sordid visions of life and Hole's (what a name!) worldly sexual proclivities, he suggests to Juliette that he wants to swing. From then on, the proceedings take a dip for the worse, as the dark side of Juliette and Paul edges onto a slippery slope. Paul begins to tread a narrow line between settling down and living Hole and Billy's licentious lifestyle, while Juliette takes it one step further.

It's difficult to see what writer/director Penny Woolcock is trying to achieve here. The whole affair is a dishevelled mess, with no linear narrative, no cohesion in the script or characters, and a revolting grimy looking film which drowns in its own cadaverous undercurrents.

The scenes of kids bare-knuckle fighting are highly contrived, given that the whole community is happily looking on, unperturbed. With the exception of Paul, who is more a victim of his own malleable conscience, none of the main characters draw empathy. Billy is a lying psycho with no redeeming features; Hole - supposedly a law student with a brain - is written in as a sycophantic sybarite, bound to Billy's hip.

The climax and ending are bunged on like a slab of wet clay hitting a hard surface. An X-rated orgy scene, a brutal fight between two kids, and the showdown between Paul, Billy and Juliette tops off the proceedings.

The acting for the most part is satisfactory. Warren, as Billy, stands out as a thoroughly untrustworthy character, playing both sides of his borderline personality with authenticity.

In the end, lack of continuity in story and characters, lack of empathy and, most of all, lack of interest in a half baked storyline writes off Woolcock's effort.

Principles of lust? Whereabouts? Leave it out.

Reviewed on: 11 Mar 2004
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Gritty, hard-nosed drama about a man caught between love, lust and temptation.
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Director: Penny Woolcock

Writer: Penny Woolcock

Starring: Alec Newman, Sienna Guillory, Marc Warren, Lara Clifton, Julian Barratt, Alexander Popplewell

Year: 2003

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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