Wildside (1995 / 1999 re-release) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Christopher Walken, Anne Heche, Joan Chen

Director: Donald Cammell

A ‘psychosexual thriller’, according to the press release, WILD SIDE is the story of a banker (Anne Heche) who moonlights as an expensive call girl in order to supplement her income. She becomes caught up in a police sting operation to catch a notorious criminal who specialises in money laundering large amounts of money by manipulating bank funds.

The criminal mastermind falls in love with her, while she in turn falls in love with his ex-wife, while being blackmailed by an undercover police detective who is masquerading as the master criminals chauffeur.

This film was originally released in a different version in 1995 by a distributor who apparently (according to the press release) specialised in releasing ‘sexploitation’ movies and saw this as a chance to enter the ‘art house’ market. The director Donald Cammell refused to be associated with the release and had his name removed from the credits. Shortly afterwards he committed suicide after making a total of only 4 films. The film has now been fully restored and is being released as a ‘director’s cut’.

With such a sad history I really feel I want to support this release but unfortunately I just can’t find anything good to say about it!

I can see how a distribution company specialising in ‘sexploitation’ could have originally become interested in the film , it features rape, lesbian sex, a little bit of kinky sex suggested, and an attempted male homosexual rape scene, although it is not filmed in a particularly exploitative way.

It is however badly edited for the most part not very well filmed, the storyline is disjointed and it’s generally badly written. The acting especially from Christopher Walken seems almost awful except I’m not sure it was their acting at fault rather than just how were they supposed to play those parts!

I found it difficult to stay in my seat for the end of the film. I did only because I was constantly hoping that a film with a cast of Anne Heche, Christopher Walken and Joan Chen would somehow redeem itself at some point. It did not and I have to say it was a truly appalling film. Don’t waste your time with it, there’s loads and loads more movies out there that are much better than this which never get any distribution at all, a few star names and a bit of sex and it gets two releases, where’s the sense in that!

1 out of 6 stars