Every couple of years, an adult feature breaks new ground and advances the genre. I felt that way two years ago when An Open Invitation: A Real Swinger's Party in San Francisco treated the swingers’ community with dignity and ingenuity and became a superior adult feature, winning multiple AVN Awards. Torn, the first of New Sensations’ new Couples series, hits the bulls-eye on a subject as old as love and marriage itself, and I fully expect the critical and commercial acclaim to be just as stunning. While the subject matter could appear hackneyed and tired on paper, I can’t remember another adult feature in the 30 years I’ve been reviewing porn which touches on this specific, universal subject with such grace and detail.
Looking at a long-term marriage and the husband’s subsequent love affair with a younger woman from the man’s point of view, in an open, objective and realistic way, Torn emerges as a strong, intelligent and surprisingly emotional adult feature, with the necessary bonus of four very realistic and erotic sex scenes. That the hardcore segments evolve from the plot adds that much more depth to the sex.
Based on the true story of a pair of writer/co-director Jacky St. James’ friends, the dense and terrific storyline, augmented by voice-over that actually adds to the plot, has married couple Steven St. Croix and India Summer going though the motions in their relationship, until St. Croix meets the young, pert and ridiculously sexy Remy LaCroix, niece of his gal-pal Raylene.
That relationship and its subsequent hills and valleys makes for a perfect couples’ viewing experience, with sensational acting, writing, cinematography and sex. As New Sensations graduates from its successful Romance series, most recently helmed by Eddie Powell, the sure-handed team of Powell and St. James hits every note in the relationship perfectly.
St. Croix’s recent return to porn is welcome, and his experienced acting chops balance the newcomer LaCroix beautifully. She lights up the screen, whether skillfully delivering her lines, pounding away at Chad Alva in one sex scene or digging emotionally deep to deliver a very erotic hardcore tilt with St. Croix. What a shame she has retired before becoming the superstar that seemed to be her destiny.
India Summer turns in yet another stunning acting performance and quite a sex scene with St. Croix, given that the plot dictates less passion than she usually delivers. The scene works as good marriage sex, but the viewer never loses sight that the scene comes directly from the plot, while St. Croix and Summer obviously have toned down their natural chemistry. Raylene is funny as St. Croix’s free-spirited co-worker and gets some of the screenplay’s best lines. Her three-way with Tom Byron and Samantha Ryan, shot in a bathroom during a party (while Summer surreptitiously watches) provides a playful balance to the more intense sex scenes involving the main characters.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see St. Croix, LaCroix, Summer and Raylene garner acting nominations, as these are four of the year’s best performances.
Gorgeously shot in multiple locations, Torn has the look and feel of a major motion picture but never loses the intimacy it needs to pull off all the elements. This is a really great couples’ movie (hence the New Sensations Couples imprint), one that I would encourage everyone to see, stock, buy on VOD, rent, trade, loan, recommend, tweet about, borrow or sell. It’s affirmation that good features that aren’t parodies can still arouse and entertain.