New Movies -
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Old Movies -
Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
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Extremities (Robert M. Young, 1986)
The slim premise here requires little explanation. After Marjorie fends off an anonymous attempted rape, her rapist uses her lost wallet to stalk her at her home. Once her roommates leave, he moves in for the prize. The film seems designed to allow Fawcett, in a more dramatic role than she was known for, to show off her acting chops. She has ample opportunity to demonstrate her shame, tears, and wrath. Still, there seems to be little psychology at work here beyond the actress’ determination. The other performers are adequate at best, and the material develops less than one would hope. The opening car-ride, for example, in which Fawcett is held at knifepoint while she is told to drive to a secluded area, is far too drawn out. Such a scene should be suspenseful, but under the direction of Young, it mostly feels like a desperate attempt to pad out a movie that is only 89 minutes long.
Extremities is clearly conflicted. It at once wants to be a feminist tract against the exploitation of women and a vessel that showcases that exploitation. The casual sexism and unfeeling bureaucracy that Marjorie feels at the police station is meant to serve as justification for the retribution that she later enacts, but the moral compass spins so wildly in the film’s baffling third act that any point behind all of the mutual sadism is lost. While the movie generates some real tension between the rapist and intended victim at times, one can’t help but wonder what is truly motivating the conflict. What seems to be the ultimate message here, that we are all capable of acting like animals, is too trite and too simple to justify the terror that the film asks us to endure. The end result is a movie that feels as sleazy as the man it is struggling to denounce.