inescapable

2003

Written and Directed by: Helen Lesnick

What you get out of Inescapable depends entirely upon your expectations going in. Despite knowing full well that the film was being advertised merely as soft porn with a plot, the fact that this film came from director/writer Helen Lesnick (the writer/director/lead actress of A Family Affair) in itself probably raised my expectations way higher than they should have been. For instance, I actually thought Lesnick had a reasonable grasp of dialogue. I thought she knew how to light for the screen, and record sound, and keep the camera from wobbling uncontrollably.

All this is just another way of saying I was totally unprepared for just how bad this film would be. To all those people who complained about the production values on Go Fish, be warned. Inescapable makes Go Fish look like The English Patient.

As for the story, the plot is quite simple, as one would expect from soft porn. Jessie and Susan are a couple who travel to Oregon so that Susan can attend a conference at her old University. While there, they stay with another couple, Beth and Chloe. Susan and Beth are old friends who are both attending the seminars, which leaves Chloe and Jessie to their own devices for the long daylight hours.

Pretty soon Jessie and Chloe find a way to spend their downtime. After connecting at first glance (cue collective groans from the audience) Jessie and Chloe waste no time in making their mutual attraction known. The first tryst on the kitchen floor is reasonably sexy, but the surrounding dialogue is just hideous to the point where I would have been quite happy had the cinema's sound broken down leaving us only with the visuals. This would have also solved the problem of the annoying, tinny soundtrack where one (bad) song was used repeatedly throughout the film.

Thus begins a lot of sex, interspersed with little scenes where the couples hike, picnic, drink wine, play board games and eat at restaurants, all with the intention of building tension but which only succeed in making us want to strangle everyone involved, right down to the last gaffer. I particularly wanted to take the Susan character and slap the perkiness out of her. I have a theory that it is actually excessive perkiness and not excessive screen violence that produces the most violent reactions in audiences. Go with me here.

Having seen the film surrounded by 500+ equally disappointed and vaguely amused lesbians, I know for a fact that the only thing that makes this film enjoyable is audience participation. So make sure, if you're going to watch this movie at all, that you do so in groups larger than five so that there's a variety of catcalling. My favourite was a woman to my right answering the line "What are we going to do?" with "Get counselling!" The taunts of "get a scriptwriter!" and "kill me" were also equally valid.

Jessie, who is the domineering one in the flirtation and in the sex scenes, also has a jealous streak. She watches morosely as Chloe talks happily to other women at a party and practically drags her upstairs caveman-like to begin an ill-conceived sex scene while the party is in full swing. (Note to director: when people are having quickie, I'm-in-danger-of-being-caught sex, they rarely remove every article of clothing they're wearing, it makes explaining what is going on that bit more difficult if they're caught.) Beth, who is a bit more clued in than perky-Susan, looks for Chloe, oddly accompanied by creepy music that for a moment made me think there would be a shower-scene stabbing involved. Lo and behold though, the philanderers barely escape being caught.

Finally, after sex, sex and more sex, the angst starts to kick in. Just when you think nothing can be worse than the lines they use to seduce each other, then come the lines they use to try breaking up. Chloe pushes for a continued relationship but Jessie argues the futility of it and eventually breaks down into her hilarious "but I'm not emotionally capable to sustain this pressure" speech, which had the audience practically howling in the aisles. I think it was all supposed to be sad, but when a character says "this is going to end badly" in any context other than escaping at light-speed from an intergalactic space baddie, you just have to laugh, or leave.

It has to be possible to have a film that can combine both good story and good sex. After all, the straight world does it, why can't we? I do applaud Lesnick's intent - to produce erotica that seems more in line with what your average lesbian would be likely to experience in the bedroom. I did like the lack of rubber or toys of any kind. I mean, it's about time someone showed a lesbian erotic film where hands and mouths feature more than fake penises. The film scores an additional half-star from me just for the shower sex scene, which was the only time that the audience all shut up at once.

My advice to potential audiences would be to lower your expectations to absolute zero and be prepared to laugh at the bad sex. Better yet, turn off the TV and go and have bad sex. It will still be better than watching this movie. As a porn film Inescapable is already pretty awful, but as regular entertainment it falls hilariously flat. It's almost bad enough to be good, but remember, you'll never get these eighty minutes back again.

Got a comment? Write to me at nancyamazon@gmail.com