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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Diary of a Sex Addict (2001)

Dr. Jane Bordeaux: Which one's really you? The family man or the other guy?
Sammy Thorn: Both.

- Nastassja Kinski, Michael Des Barres

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: November 19, 2001

Stars: Nastassja Kinski, Michael Des Barres, Rosanna Arquette
Other Stars: Ed Begley Jr., A.J. Benza, Alex M. Douglas, Jimmy Flynt, Aviva Gale, Alexandra Paul, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Troy Winbush
Director: Joseph Brutsman

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for for strong sexual content and language
Run Time: 01h:33m:15s
Release Date: November 13, 2001
UPC: 043396070677
Genre: late night


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C-AA- D+

DVD Review

I can handle a good erotic thriller as much as the next guy—an enticing tale, a bit of suspense, some close calls and a healthy dosing of gratuitous nudity. Unfortunately, the genre is littered with films that fail to be either interesting, suspenseful, erotic or in any other way engaging. Most of them star Shannon Tweed (sorry Shannon). Diary Of A Sex Addict, Joseph Brutsman's second film, which he also co-wrote, looked to have some promise. With attractive name stars like Nastassja Kinski and Rosanna Arquette there was potential, as both have delivered some fine performances in their careers. Michael Des Barres, whose credits include smaller parts in Mulholland Drive, Under Siege and even To Sir, With Love, could have been okay. However, such is not the case, and while this isn't a horrible film, it certainly ranks in the unmemorable and unlikably mediocre category.

Meet Sammy Thorn (Des Barres), restaurateur, husband and father, who is about to tell his tale of sexual addiction to psychiatrist, Dr. Jane Bordeaux (Kinski). Sammy loves his wife Grace (Arquette), but can't stop having sex with other women—make that every other woman. At home, he is a loving father, but he is leading a double life, and his obsession with sex is bringing him closer and closer to the brink of disaster. Running the restaurant makes for a perfect cover, as he disappears for hours in search of someone to have sex with—and not just any kind of sex, the rough, violent kind, that every woman in this film seems to love. Being discreet is a challenge, aside from being arrested for his public behavior, he also makes phone calls from home to the dozens of women he sees on a regular basis given any opportunity. Still, despite his strings of lovers and choice of locations for his habits (like the front hall of his house, or in the restaurant kitchen during business hours), his wife is totally clueless. Sammy recounts his escapades, with each one getting progressively more out of control, from the assistant cook (Aviva Gale), to the high priced hookers, to the crack whore on the street, the stakes are raised. What will it take to finally get him to confront his addiction? Can he do it before something even more serious happens?

While the subject of sexual addiction is a serious one, as a basis for an exploitation film the premise could have worked, with the inherent need for sexually explicit scenes. However, the majority of the nudity is contained in short scenes where there is only violent sex going on, diminishing its erotic potential for many. Also, nudity is confined to only a handful of supporting cast or bit players, so if you were hoping for Arquette and Kinski to be baring all, you're out of luck. The main character is completely unlikable, which is good in a sense, but you can't even feel sorry for such a loser. While it works for the plot, even far fetched fantasy needs some grounding in reality, but here the lead character is wholely unrealistic, and despite his reputation, has a personality that attracts every woman in this film, all of whom also like to be tied up, beaten, raped or are otherwise as obsessed with sex as he is, and don't care that he is out with anything that breathes in the offtime—which brings us to the moral issues. Of course, Sammy doesn't have safe sex, and in this day and age, the surprise where this is leading isn't much of one. Throw in Ed Begley Jr. as the family doctor, and a menacing ex-theater usher turned stalker—who ends up worshipping the male lead for his ability to keep so many women on the sly—and you start seeing the true nature of this film.

I also had an issue with the look of this movie, which I could swear was shot on video, with a very flat appearance, and no sense of depth in the cinematography. Lots of stylish whip pans, jump cuts and flashy editing abound, but all they do is tie together scene after scene of flat acting shot with an unstable handheld camera. Kinski and Arquettte are wasted here. Where is Shannon Tweed when you need her?

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - n/a
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: As mentioned in the main review, this looks to have been shot on video, though there is some fine grain present in places. Colors are good, clarity is excellent, black levels are solid. Detail is clear, and there are no defects to speak of in the print. Nothing wrong with the video. Widescreen or full-screen options are presented at startup.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is also fine, though nothing to get all too excited about. The soundfield is enveloping, dialogue is clear and easily discernable, and foley is dynamic for the frequent cuts.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sexual Predator, Trois, Forbidden Sins, Dead Sexy
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Trailers for more sexual thrillers include Sexual Predator, Trois, and a pair of Shannon Tweed flicks, Forbidden Sins and Dead Sexy. These look to give away the majority of the plot in each one, so if you wanted a surprise, you're best to pass. They are chock full of nudity though.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Yet another reminder that the days of good erotic cinema are over. Those looking for a serious film on sexual addiction can look elsewhere, those more interested in a trashy exploitation flick are bound to be disappointed as well. With its moral overtones, Diary Of A Sex Addict blows the fantasy concept of indiscriminant sex without consequences; as a voyeuristic piece, the limited nudity and attempts at a plot get in the way. The violent nature of the sex scenes will also limit erotic potential for many. The prescription for this one: Abstinence is best.

 


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