Film Scouts Reviews

"Lust and Revenge"

by Karen Jaehne

"Lust and Revenge" is hardly a title you'd expect from the eccentric Australian director Paul Cox, the man who gave us "Man of Flowers," "Cactus," "Vincent" (Van Gogh), and "Tale of a Woman." Despite the Kung Fu sound of things, art and museums are once again the focus of Cox's work, but this time he's lashing out at the commercial and erotic forces that work on artists like worms on wood.

George Oliphant needs a tax write-off, so he decides to give a sculpture to the museum and let his useless daughter Georgina supervise the project. A sculptor is selected - with wry parody of the way such decisions are made - and a man with a good body is found to be her model. His name is Karl-Heinz, but he's not as Germanic as that sounds - no Schwarzeneger here, just a very nice, normal man beset by sex-hungry women. And since poor Karl-Heinz has a wife who is deeper into new age out-of-body experiences than the here-and-now chemistry of sex, Karl-Heinz just does what comes naturally. The plot veers into a comedy of manners, with everybody wanting a piece of everybody else.

The wild card is that the government will not allow the deduction unless the sculpture is larger - so Karl-Heinz must either grow, or another figure must be added. It is decided to get his wife, the lovely but modest Cecilia to model nude as well. Cecilia is persuaded under the influence of drugs and maybe a trace of love for her husband - which allows for a steamy sex scene. Actually Cecilia gets the best scenes - she also gets to take a baseball bat to something she's mad at a point when she's very angry.

Polish emigre actress Gosia Dobrowolska is convincingly furious, performing a scene of rather frightening violence - the kind of violence that comes out of real life and not our of the movies' usual overheated exaggerated violence.

Cox appears in a cameo performance of a man visiting a New Age shop, fondling some kind of crystal and asking, "How do I know if this is my lingum?"

There are very funny moments in this film, and for anybody who's ever had to compromise an artistic dream, it will tickle your funny bone and rag your conscience. It all takes place in Adelaide, Australia, but it could easily be L.A. or Soho, London or Rome. Festivals all over the globe have shown Cox's films, and this one will undoubtedly also be playing the festival circuit, before it arrives at an art house near you.

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