This film is an exercise in banality compared to the book, a modern day erotic masterpiece. The main flaw of 9 1/2 WEEKS lies in its failure to grasp the subtlety and essence of the original story, let alone bring it to the screen. The book so subtly seduces the unnamed heroine – and the reader – into its essence, the gradual decline into decadence, that one scarcely notices crossing the line. But the adulteration of the story is not the only defect of this film. Mickey Roarke usually tends to come off as a thug, with variations on the theme: the clever thug, the decent thug, the sick thug, the slick thug, the rich, manipulative thug – but always a thug, nevertheless. His innate inability to portray finesse and refinement made him a very poor choice for the role of the polished, cultured, professionally successful dilettante dabbling in decidedly deviant sex. (See Christian Bale in his outstanding performance as the AMERICAN PSYCHO: though something of a ýcomic booký type character, the psycho possesses an inherent veneer of respectability that belies the twisted kink underneath.) Basinger is, as always, lovely to behold, but does not convey the vulnerability of a woman who could be so easily sucked into the bizarre relationship that vividly comes to life on the printed page, but utterly fails to do so in this extremely disappointing movie.
O.K., my wife and I liked parts of it, especially the spicy, slightly off-kilter sex scenes. Which is, I believe, the only reason that this movie is still getting rented today. Rent it for this reason, and you won’t be disappointed. Asides: fun looking back on the 1980s hair/clothing styles. Mickey Rourke whispers his lines…very annoying!
Kim Bassinger has always been a vulnerable cypher to me, but that seems apropos to the part here and used to good effect. Mickey Rourke is astoundingly talented as always. It’s no surprise he’s been offered so many erotic parts, as he really shines as a lover. Just look at him on that DVD cover. All that manliness becomes so incredibly vulnerable and tender and sweet. Very cagey to juxtapose his tough boxer persona/skillfully tender lover against S & M, as it’s the temperament that a dominant needs: the provider/protector you’re safe with, who will give you what you want but are afraid to ask for and make all your decisions for you. Very very smart casting. But if you listen to interviews, Adrian Lyne is quite the bold intellectual. The two leads have amazing chemistry, and actually make sex look sexy and romantic, which is no easy task. Lyne has a wonderful feel for the material, and though there were scenes from the book I NEVER would have cut out (e.g., him controlling her so much he inserted and removed her tampons, her leaving him because she’d become an automaton who couldn’t bathe herself without his permission), I’m sure it had to do with censorship at the time. This was a very racy film in the 80s, though it appears tame now it was its day’s Last Tango in Paris. I just miss some of those scenes that were cut because Lyne and co could have done some deeper digging into the psychological depths that make a dominant submissive relationship work for a niche portion of our culture. In the book, he was so desperately afraid of abandonment he had to essentially lock her in his house to make sure she never left him. He controlled every aspect of her life, and her life became not leaving his home ever. Sort of a living romance doll. Even without that level of detail/depth this movie is interesting, thought-provoking work. Definitely recommended. And due for a remake that goes farther.