Wild Things

Wild Things


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It's fun to go back and soak in a glossy, old-fashioned melodrama that tells a story too tricksy to take seriously. This time, everyone is lying. This time, the girls play grown-up games in high school cut-offs. It's Florida and the air is wet between your legs. Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is a teacher who appears to take an interest in the wellbeing of his pupils. When Kelly (Denise Richards), one of the more flirtatious members of his class, accuses him of rape, half the sky falls on his head. The rest follows when bad girl, Suzie (Neve Campbell), from the wrong side of the swamps, announces that a year earlier Mr Nice Guy Lombardo took her home to her trailer after working late and physically forced himself where he shouldn't.

Kelly comes from a dysfunctinal ("I miss Dad... he didn't have to kill himself") upper-crust family, that has more money than dialogue skills. Lombardo is a pretty boy from somewhere else, who thought things would improve after he won the educator of the year award. Now the full weight of the country club bears down on him and he'll be lucky to find a lawyer prepared to take on the case.

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How lucky he is with Ken Bowden (Bill Murray) remains to be seen. If first impressions are anything to go by, victory in the courtroom has less chance than a guinea fowl in a 'gator pool. This is only the start of something surprising. Detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) says a wise thing when he tells one of the girls, "People aren't always what they appear." Not even him. His obsession with the case and especially nailing Lombardo seems over zealous, even personal. What's behind it? What's behind what's behind it?

The twists and turns lose perspective, despite always being entertaining. John McNaughton and his cameraman, Jeffrey Kimball, create a luscious feel that is very decadent, very Florida, with arty sex scenes that strive for outrage. The plot does not stand up to scrutiny and is so full of holes it should sink to the bottom of the Everglades. It doesn't, because it has style.

Bacon loves to play dirty. Detective Duquette has a chilling conscientiousness that contrasts with the uninhibited immorality of the funsters. You know he's flawed, you know he'll crack. What you don't know is when. Dillon plays a more mature version of his handsome, laconic self, always standing a little back from Lombardo, careful not to be incriminated. Campbell, the beautiful Sidney from Scream, is dangerously exciting, while Murray gives a lesson in comic timing. Don't be fooled. It's rubbish. Really!

Or is it?

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Wild Things packshot
A high-school teacher finds his name in the frame for two rape attacks.
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Director: John McNaughton

Writer: Stephen Peters

Starring: Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray, Carrie Snodgress, Jeff Perry, Cory Pendergast

Year: 1998

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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