9 ½ Weeks [Blu-Ray] Adrian Lyne

9 ½ Weeks [Blu-Ray] Adrian Lyne
Even though 9 ½ Weeks tanked at the box office back in the mid-'80s when it was released, its notoriety generated enough discussion and intrigue to maintain household ubiquity for years after its theatrical run. Filmed back in 1984, this smutty psychological romance detailing the thrill, terror and abandon of nascent sexual passions was delayed for two years after Tri-Star dropped it when it was unable to obtain an R-rating. Inevitably, this created a bit of a stir for audiences curious to see what all the fuss was about, even though the "honey cunny" sequence and alleyway gutter sex scenes didn't hold a candle to the sorts of shenanigans going on in Last Tango in Paris or Don't Look Now. It was more about how Adrian Lyne handled the discomforting tension and eroticism between recently divorced art gallery assistant Elizabeth (Kim Basinger) and smug, controlling commodities broker John (Mickey Rourke). Neither actor is ever fully nude, save a couple of boob shots from Basinger and a butt shot from her body double, but Lyne's grainy, naturalistic handling of their sexual experimentation with power dynamics, wherein John forces Elizabeth to denigrate herself for his titillation resultantly giving her the simultaneous terror and excitement of losing control, is disquieting to say the least. His gratuitous handling of mouths and hands while Rourke playfully shoves strawberries and peppers between Basinger's eager lips is nearly as provocative as a porno close-up, which is nothing compared to the uneasy feeling generated by his forcing her to crawl on her knees for money or the casual delivery of degrading insults juxtaposed with high praise of beauty. This is an insightful character piece about a woman experiencing the excitement of letting go with a man that refuses to drop his guard, demonstrating the same narcissistic sense of entitlement and control with her as he does the world. The process of realization and self-awareness is surprisingly well demonstrated by Basinger, who at this time was a virtual unknown, mostly because of Adrian Lyne's controversial directorial approach. While filming sequentially (a rather costly decision), he refused to let Basinger and Rourke interact off the set and actually made up psychological troublesome gossip about Rourke to elicit a heightened emotional response from Basinger on camera towards the end of the film. Some might suggest that this was a tacky and cruel approach to direction, even though it managed to generate one of Basinger's most nuanced and candid performances. As far as his approach to aesthetics, focusing on grainy details and frequently using backlighting, the transfer to HD isn't particularly remarkable, capturing the intended naturalist look with far too much clarity. No supplements are included with the Blu-Ray. (Warner)