As adult films ascend in quality and the home video market flourishes, a thin line is drawn between X-rated sex films and those of the mainstream. The hardest R-rated films that open in legitimate theatres can be easily be paralleled with movies that are considered softcore porn. Recently, a slew of high-budgeted, almost "artsy" hardcore films, slickly made with superb production values have been released, closing the gap between XXX and "normal" motion pictures. Chuck Vincent's Roommates has been the staple film of this trend —a rather well-made, interesting story of three single girls trying to make lives for themselves. It's light on the hardcore sex and heavy on the story. In Love, Vincent's latest venture, said to be backed by Playboy Magazine, tends to cling to that formula, as it aspire to be much more than a sex film. One must ponder the difference, though, between aspirations and pretensions. In reality, this ambitious effort showcases Vincent's vast talents as a filmmaker. But the question arises as to whether there's really a strong audience for this kind of project.
The story traces the lives of two growing people from 1962 to the present. Through a chance meeting, Jill (Kelly Nichols) and Andy (Jerry Butler) have a passionate three-day love affair that features the most erotic scenes in the film. The carnal desires ring true, and thanks to some fine acting, we believe that these two truly love each other.
But Andy, a married man who aspires to be a restaurant king, goes back to New York and we trace the separate lives of these intriguing characters until their next meeting, some 20 years later. In their own separate worlds, they both change with the times and grow up a bit as well.
Jill experiences a love affair with a derelict named Kip (Jack Wrangler), studies under a guru and tries acid, goes to prison on drug charges, becomes a trashy novelist whose boos are make into trashy films, and ultimately becomes famous and financially successful.
On the other hand, Andy loses his wife (Veronica Hart) after an affair with an evil Samantha Fox, but moves on to become a maverick in the restaurant business. And, while they are both lonely (her marriage to a movie producer is a failure), neither puts the effort into reconciling their true love.
But by 1974, Andy has begun pursuing Jill, but his difficulty in finding her prevents the oblivious reconciliation that we know will occur by film's end. And that's where the problem begins. In Love shows a lot of promise after these attractive people fall in love —and once they are apart, the film begins to unravel as well. The incidents that plague these characters are completely disjointed, with an obvious lack of motivation on both characters; parts in much of what they do.
Often an adult film can be classified as simply a sex film and it can be judged simply by its eroticism. But when such a complex story accompanies the few fornication scenes, the plot must be well-drawn. As supplementation to the story, the sex scenes of In Love achieve erotic highs —but not enough is show. At least not enough to make up for the muddled script. In Love tries to be too many things and ends up lacking in both the story and sexual aspects.
But credit must be given to the two leads, as they form a charismatic couple that we'd love to see more of. In addition, supporting players Susan Nero, Samantha Fox, Michael Knight and Joanna Storm do fine in their respective small roles. In Love is nice to look at with Vincent's lush photography and a pretty musical score (rather than the traditional "oldies" music found in 60's and 70's reminisce films) accompanies the proceedings.
The small amount of good sex in In Love with its tactful charm, simply cannot overcome the typical story of young people who come of age in the 1960's and 1970's. But, since it is bold idea for adult films, we applaud Chuck Vincent (Hot T-Shirts, Jack and Jill) and his serious attempts to give hardcore films more mainstream commercial acceptance. One can remember the excitement when his Roommates gained positive reviews fro the straight press.