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Wednesday, September 9, 1998

Let's Talk About Sex

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Let's Talk About Sex is advertised as "a guerrilla incursion into women's dating lives." Part aggressive girl-power documentary ("Tell me what you want, what you really, really want"), part feeble feature film about "dating and mating in the '90s," Let's Talk About Sex manages to strip the cosmic female sublime of both its cosmic and its sublime attributes. It leaves exposed before the avid eye of the camera a sometimes humorous, sometimes downright pathetic world of fears, fantasies and desires to which the women of the '90s are supposed to belong.

Unable to have children of her own, Miami advice columnist Jazz (Troy Beyer) decides to conceive a talk show. This resolution (if not a child, then a show) seems to make perfect sense to Jazz and her friends who keep reminding her that she wants to be "everybody's mother." Meant to record women's devastatingly honest commentaries on relationships in the '90s, Jazz's celluloid child -- imaginatively entitled Girl Talk -- can get a spot on a local TV channel only if Jazz can come up with a demo tape capturing the essence of her concept. Helped by her friends Lena (perpetually involved with the wrong guy) and Michelle (who, "afraid of getting hurt," dates boys half her age), Jazz interviews dozens of young women who aren't in the least bashful about their needs.

Slowly but surely, the interviews turn into show-and-tell episodes. The protagonists make use of perfume bottles, cucumbers, door knobs, hair brushes and blow-dryers (yes), in a sexual tour-de-force that would make even the cast of Dangerous Liaisons blush.

Through quick peeks inside bedrooms, kitchens and ladies' rooms (oh, how Ally McBeal would scorn!) and copious low-angle shots up restless skirts, "the real deal" is revealed. The girls want romance, loyalty, great sex, beautiful smiles, fat wallets and guys who never sleep. If that doesn't work, they go shopping.

Thus stands written (and corrected) the oldest story in the book, trivialized beyond recognition in this debut feature film by actor-writer-director Troy Beyer. Known for her roles in Roof Tops, The Five Heartbeats, The Gingerbread Man and for her first script (B.A.P.S.), Beyer doesn't shy away from melodramatic dialogue enhanced by soft piano music, close-ups of eyes filled with tears and painfully stereotypical characters.

The film's happy ending -- which suggests that without a good man, women are destined to live lives of quiet desperation -- is in direct contradiction to the genuinely amusing answers of the real-life women on the streets of Miami. Trapped inside this unsuccessful mix, the audience may find strange comfort "in the company of men" and in one of Michelle's lines: "I'm really tired of the whole fucking charade."

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