Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Hot Spot (1990)

Steamy, if thin neo-noir about a drifting used-car salesman, a teenaged sexpot, and a sexually aggressive southern belle. Don Johnson is the lead, who gets bounced around between his flirty, virginal relationship with Jennifer Connelly's sweet 19-year old and Virginia Madsen's blonde bombshell trophy wife (of his boss, no less). Connelly is gorgeous, but is, expectedly, too subdued, leaving the true sparks flying between Johnson and Madsen. Aside from being ideally sweaty-handsome, Johnson is a fucking trooper in trying to play his inexplicable, plot-dependent character straight, and not over the top, and keeping him a somewhat grounded and identifiable protagonist, despite his unjustified behavior throughout; Johnson deserved more roles like this when he looked like that (I'm counting down the seconds till Machete brings Crockett and Seagal back to me). But the true star of the show is Madsen. For the first time, I see the evidence of her bloodline with brother Michael, 'cause she's all sorts of crazy-sexy-cool in this one. Her backstory is thin, so she makes her character a large, smothering sexual figure, one that would have been considered a Catherine Tramell spoof had this been released after Basic Instinct. Her performance takes her character very far over the edge, but her dynamite looks at this time completely back it up, and it is not a stretch at all to see someone like Johnson's character losing his marbles over that appealing of a sexual aggressor. The supporting cast, featuring strong character actors William Sadler and Charlie Martin Smith, gets short-changed, with all the focus being on the nonsensical love triangle. However, the style in Johnson and Madsen's scenes are so strong, the rest of the film kind of falls into place around their relationship, instead of distracting us from it.

Recommended for fans of neo-noirs, Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, or Jennifer Connelly's (gratuitously shown) breasts. This one falls in the realm of Palmetto or Wild Things, in terms of hot, southern, sexually-charged noirs, but definitely more the former than the latter in terms of quality (no 3-ways here, gents).

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