Friday, 15 April 2011

Singapore Sling (1990)

Take a mix of classic noir and niche pornography and then stir in plenty of enjoyable narrative moments where the fourth wall is broken and you have Singapore Sling.
The movie starts with a mother (Michele Valley) and daughter (Meredyth Herold) digging a grave for the chauffeur that they’ve just killed. While this is happening, a detective (Panos Thanassoulis) is about to pass out in his car from a bullet wound in his shoulder. But his voiceover gives us a bit of explanation first – namely, he’s after a woman named Laura who may already be dead. 
We then move on to see mummy and daughter engaging in some nasty sex, quickly learning that nothing is really taboo for them. When the detective finally gets to their door he is taken in to be used by the pair in both physical and mental games.
Writer-director Nikos Nikolaidis is now a new favourite of mine. Okay, I’ve only seen this movie but it’s a great one. The script is witty and sharp, though there are many dialogue-free moments dwelling on the more physical aspects of the material, and the whole thing looks gorgeous in black and white, also making a lot of what’s onscreen slightly more palatable.
The world of the characters is both vaguely sketched out and yet detailed enough to make everything bizarrely believable while also leaving much to be pondered – just how did these bizarre games begin? How do the women keep their lifestyle? The two wander around their home like some distant relatives of Norma Desmond who never managed to become famous.
Michele Valley and Meredyth Herold are both superb, portraying people who are clearly quite mad but doing so in a way that’s hugely entertaining and overly theatrical. Panos Thanassoulis, for the most part, plays someone who is quite passive but does well amidst such fireworks.
I guess I should give an idea of some of the stronger content here. There’s incest, water sports, vomiting, fruit as a masturbatory aid, some scenes very much like sploshing (if you don’t know what that is then there is no way in hell that I’M telling you) and more. Which is why the next sentence is going to seem very strange.
The movie does, at times, somehow still manage to be quite an erotic experience, despite the extremes of the sexplay on show. Perhaps that says more about my mental state than anything in the movie. There are, of course, many aspects of the material onscreen that are offputting and slightly disturbing but there’s also a quality and style to everything that makes it easier to accept that these are adults playing with adults and to be more tolerant of what’s going on.
Certainly not for everyone, and I expect some people to give me funny looks after their viewing experience (if they ever see the thing), but it’s a very good film that I am now a big fan of. Oh, and fans of Laura should find a little more to enjoy, the movie appears to reference it in a number of ways. Which I think is a good thing.


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