USA | 80 MINUTES | English |
THE PORNOGRAPHER (A LOVE STORY)
"All directors are perverts," observes Anna (Irene Jacob), the bewitching actress at the center of Alan Wade's cat-and-mouse tale The Pornographer (A Love Story). "You hide in the shadows, ask us to expose ourselves, and leave us in the dust." The mesmerizing sophomore feature from Wade (Julian Po) adroitly plumbs the depths of the power relationship between actress and director. In this case, the director, Michael, is played with mannered diffidence by indie stalwart (and Hal Hartley fixture) Martin Donovan. The archetypal tormented, commitment-phobic auteur, Michael is drawn to Anna, one of his recent leading ladies, but not for the usual prurient reasons--or so he thinks. He begins videotaping scripted scenes with her in his cavernous loft, ostensibly in rehearsal for a new film but really so he can secretly play back the ravishing woman's every movement, expression, and line reading when no one's around. What could have been merely creepy becomes more intriguing when Anna catches on to Michael's little game and turns the tables on him. For in this inventive iteration of the time-honored pas-de-deux between filmmaker and performer, the actress has some decided advantages. The Pornographer is a mordant feature with scenes that will linger in your mind long after the closing credits. Also of note is an eye-opening turn from a pre-Secretary Maggie Gyllenhaal as a call girl who indulges Michael's fantasies, as well as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from carrot-topped sitcom stringbean Laura Prepon of That 70's Show.