ELEKTRA LUXX (2011)
Starring Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Malin Akerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Marley Shelton, Justin Kirk, Amy Rosoff, Lucy Punch, Kathleen Quinlan, Vincent Kartheiser, Emma Bell, Jesse Garcia, Christine Lakin and Julianne Moore.
Screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez.
Directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.
Distributed by Sony Pictures. 97 minutes. Rated R.
It’s always interesting how sometimes movie ideas seem to come in twos. For example, in recent years we’ve had two aliens-attacking-Los Angeles movies (Skyline, Battle: LA), two loser mall security guards (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Observe & Report), two Truman Capote bio-pics (Capote, Infamous), two remakes of a classic 70s disaster film (Poseidon, the TV miniseries The Poseidon Adventure) and two comets heading towards earth (Armageddon, Deep Impact.)
It turns out that Elektra Luxx is the first of two low budget films coming out which take bemused looks at aging former porn stars trying to get used to life after leaving the industry and running across a nerdy guy who is their biggest fan – beating Meet Monica Velour with Kim Cattrall to the multiplexes by three weeks.
However, just because the basic storylines are similar, I find it hard to believe that Velour will be as offbeat and surreal – which is meant as a compliment. Elektra Luxx is an intriguingly light and off-kilter look at a porn world that is usually portrayed as dark, sordid and dehumanizing. Sure, that stuff is here, but it’s only a small part of a movie which – as odd as this may seem – actually makes pornography seem eclectic, innocent and just a bit sad.
There is very little nudity in the film (a single naked bottom) and not much more sex. Elektra Luxx isn’t about titillation; it is about the sheer ridiculousness of the world.
In fact, I get the feeling that writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez is trying his damnedest to show what would happen if Pedro Almodovar made a movie about the LA porn world. It’s not always a successful approximation, but it’s an interesting attempt.
Beyond the inherent ridiculousness of the porn world, Gutierrez mixes in private detectives, dead rock stars, nerdy bloggers, best-selling novelists, estranged couples, venture capitalists, bi-curious call girls, self-help gurus, precocious young teen girls, community center students and a naked guy in an elevator. Julianne Moore even shows up in an unbilled cameo as the Virgin Mary in what may or may not be a dream sequence.
As you can see, Elektra Luxx takes its quirkiness very seriously.
Elektra Luxx is the sequel to a little-seen 2009 movie called Women in Trouble, which honestly I have not caught so I can’t really compare the two. However, for a small film it had a surprisingly strong cast, including Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Simon Baker, Sarah Clarke, Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marley Shelton and a cameo by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In fact, Gutierrez plans on it being a trilogy – with the final upcoming episode being called Women in Ecstacy.
Many of the characters return in Elektra Luxx and Gordon-Levitt’s role was beefed up a bit – however several others do not return, including Baker, Clarke, Britton and Brolin, who only appears in the sequel in photographs.
Gugino returns as the title character of the new film – the star of such classic “adult” films as There Will Be Semen, Call Me Lightning and Even Reverse Cowgirls Get the Blues. Elektra has decided to leave the business because she has become pregnant. She is settling into her new endeavor – teaching sexual techniques to uptight suburban housewives at a local community center – when an uptight woman (Marley Shelton) shows up with some stolen songs which Elektra Luxx’s late drummer boyfriend had written about the porn star. It seems the woman had an affair with the drummer and now feels horribly guilty, so she wants the adult actress to seduce her fiancé so that they will be even.
At the same time, the film takes side trips to visit a pretentious porn blogger (Gordon-Levitt) who is fixated on Luxx, performing a tribute to her on live stream when not being nagged by his mother, trying to stop his little sister from posting nude shots of herself on his site and shyly trying to seduce a pretty local grocery store clerk (Malin Ackerman).
A third plotline follows a dim former porn co-star (Palicki) who is suddenly realizing that despite the fact that they are both straight, she is getting a huge girl-crush on her best friend (Chriqui).
All of these disparate plot threads – not to mention the other characters like the private eye, the novelist, the horny bankers and the babysat girl – weave in and out to make an interesting ensemble look at some of society’s outcasts.
Elektra Luxx sometimes goes off the rails as it tries to subvert cinematic traditions. Some of the plot turns are a bit too off-the-wall, while others skirt a bit too close to melodrama. However, a particularly strong performance by the wonderfully game Gugino (actually, two performances, she also does one scene as her character’s street-tough twin sister) and a clever, unpredictable and often humorous script make Elektra Luxx a satisfying diversion for adventurous moviegoers.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 25, 2011.