Female Perversions

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Adapted from an academic tome by US feminist Louise J Kaplan, this first feature centres on the crimes and misdemeanours of two thirty-something sisters. It's a fiery polemic/sex romp/watery Mamet soap. Tilda Swinton is a successful attorney, Eve, a brittle beast forever candying over her 'masculine' ambition with lipstick, lingerie and high heels. Politically correct Madelyn (Madigan) is attempting to hide 'femaleness' (she steals frilly underwear). Events focus on Eve's interview for the post of judge and Madelyn's arrest for theft. As family secrets unravel, the question becomes which side of the law should women want to be on? The film totters under the weight of its earnest symbolism (an ageing, overweight woman, for instance, struggling on a tightrope). Moreover, for all director/co-writer Streitfeld's desire to explode our culture's fascination with beauty, she herself seems besotted with Swinton, fixating on her perfect, scrubbed-with-nails aesthetic; the more homely Madigan, wonderfully restrained in her dead-eyed lunacy, just doesn't attract the same attention. Among the po-faced dross, however, there's much that's stunning. Interminable and flawed though the film is, the images that work grip like ivy.

Release details

Duration: 113 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Susan Streitfeld
Screenwriter: Julie Herbert, Susan Streitfeld
Cast: Tilda Swinton
Amy Madigan
Karen Sillas
Frances Fisher
Clancy Brown
Laila Robins
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