by Rich Moreland, May 2014
This is the second installment of New Sensations’ The Temptation of Eve, an adult film extraordinaire and multiple award winner at this year’s XBIZ Show. Oh yes, it was also AVN’s Best Romance at their Las Vegas extravaganza in January.
Remy Lacroix received Best Actress Award for AVN and XBIZ; Tommy Pistol landed XBIZ’s Best Supporting Actor. Not surprisingly, the film won XBIZ’s Best Sreenplay, the ultimate honor for a beautifully constructed and performed picture.
As I suggested in the first post, buy the DVD. You’ll need Eve in your library for repeated viewings.
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The interior of Brandon’s house reflects the reductionism Eve seeks to reorder and bury her past. The minimalist decor sports muted pastels and clean lines that are in direct contrast to the complications and conflicting emotions unfolding within the narrative.
Most descriptive are the black and white photos of nude and semi-nude women arranged in controlled lines throughout the house. The pictures reflect Eve’s longing for a sexual simplicity that confines her desires and rejects temptation, while illustrating Brandon’s line up of women he casually brushes aside once needs are serviced.
Is she one of them?
Brandon wants to corral Eve with images from the past. He keeps her dangling between yesterday and today with a questionable investment in tomorrow. There is no finality with her nude pictures; like the journal, they are kept out of sight but easily retrieved because she knows where to look.
In contrast, Eve has discovered a new start with Danny, the sweet guy she purports to love.
The couple plans to grow old together while Brandon captures Eve as forever young and desirable. The photos and the journals (there is a second one solely about her) are frozen moments, tangled webs whose individual elements swirl in the abstract painting by the front door and are twisted into the black metal frame that is across from it.
Minimalist is Brandon view of his world, sex without complications where every affair is a fleeting adventure. Eve’s oversimplification is to cope with her past in such a way to free her up to support a future of security.
For both, it is easy in thought, but difficult in reality.
Through Brandon’s intervention, Danny secures a job interview in Seattle. As Eve and Danny celebrate, Brandon offers flippant congratulations and sits at the kitchen table to write in his journal. The scene communicates a fluid situation. Over the table are three lights with red shades, one dominating the other two. Eve is the largest figure framed in the shot, the men smaller in stature. Is she gaining in this war with her temptations?
More flashbacks pop up, this time in the same kitchen. Eve is relaxing, naked on the counter. After a two year friendship, Eve and Brandon have just had sex for the first time.
“Tell me it’s not going to fuck up our relationship,” she says. Doubt prevails through this carnival of free-flowing intimacy, but for now it’s all good. The two lights in the background are the same size, mates of each other.
Later when Danny is through packing and ready for some sleep. Brandon texts Eve. She goes downstairs to find him watching porn.
Exasperated, she says he is testing her patience.
“I’m testing your self-control.” His glibness bites at her. “Your resistance will break down.”
Pained, she casts her eyes downward, another flashback bubbles up from her unconscious mind. Yes, the sex screwed up their relationship.
Sex in Faded Color
Tormented by Brandon and memories that won’t sit still, Eve crawls into bed beside a sleeping Danny. The film’s second sex scene evolves out of Eve’s desperation to cling to something that offers protection against Brandon’s insensitivity. Nuzzling Danny, she awakens him and their lovemaking begins.
The porn formula of oral and standard positions are highlighted and Remy Lacroix’s pert sexiness puts her stamp on this segment. There’s no hint of gonzo because the scene is more emotional than sexual. Raw physicality is not the message, how it is presented in mood and shadow is.
The music is an evocative cloud of doubt and foreboding that hangs over the lovers. The lighting is shaded, creating a scene that edges toward film noir, sex in faded color. Eddie Powell has created a cinematic masterpiece that communicates deep emotion so powerful the viewer forgets this is a porn film.
Considering the context of the lovers and how they are enmeshed in a conflict that could trample both of them, this just may be the most artistic sex scene ever filmed.
In the background are containers, boxes suspended between packed and unpacked (clothes hang on the sides). They are symbols of Eve’s presence in Brandon’s house, an unexpected transition in Eve’s life that now replaces the once irreplaceable—her love of Brandon. She’s been here before where she thought she would stay.
To highlight this message, Eddie Powell reveals only glimpses of penetration, simultaneously concealing and exploring Eve’s dilemma.
On the nightstand are three candles in different states of use, two having been burned, one hardly touched by flame. They offer different interpretations that are appropriate to the story.
The almost whole one is Danny, little affected by the past complications of Eve and Brandon, the others a deeply burned and a slightly singed. Which is Brandon and which is Eve?
Perhaps they also represent Eve’s vagina, used severely by Brandon, now delicately by Danny. Once the getaway is accomplished, it has a chance to begin anew, tested, but not overcome, by the past.
Or maybe the best preserved candle is the resolution to the temptation, perhaps it offers Brandon redemption.
Like the film’s closing moments, the objects in the bedroom explain a saga of love pained and redeemed in a sex scene graced with an emotionally surreal quality, a true anomaly in adult film.
Nothing More, Nothing Less
Alone in the house the following day, Eve decides on a bubble bath: soak troubles away, read the journal, and self-stimulate. In a wonderfully framed split screen shot of Brandon’s bedroom and the bathroom, pay close attention to the arrangement of pillows on his bed and then later the six candles grouped in threes by color behind the tub.
Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell are preparing the viewer for a collision of emotions. Close-ups of Eve’s eyes and her licking her lips communicates everything. Is this journal about her?
When Brandon enters unannounced, whose privacy is being invaded explodes their conversation, offering Remy Lacroix her finest acting moment.
“People have fantasies, crazy intense out of control fantasies,” she says, rebutting Brandon accusations. “But that doesn’t ever mean they are ever going to get acted on.”
The ground under Eve is hardening, temptations are all around but she remains firm because separation, psychological and physical, is beginning to take hold.
“Fantasies aren’t reality,” she shouts, “They’re an escape, nothing more, nothing less!”
Eve defines the film in this forceful segment and her confrontation with Brandon is the contentious moment that turns the story in her favor.
Another quick flashback races across the screen, Brandon’s tongue works Eve into a joyous state.
“How many is that?” Brandon looks up at her.
“Too many to count,” a smiling Eve purrs, her eyes venturing down her body to find his.
The film’s reality is evident now, there will be no real time sex between Eve and Brandon. Early days with a hot lover remain a memory, recalled only in reverie.
Later Brandon plays his last card to move into real time. He brings Eve a bagel with her tea and asks her why she will not tell Danny of their affair. The solemnity of this moment is captured by the three candles on the nightstand; they now form a triangle.
Brandon says their first encounter years ago was more than just a weekend.
“For me, maybe,” Eve replies, but times have changed. “I’m not willing to jeopardize what I have now for what I wasn’t allowed to have before,” she adds.
“I’m sorry,” Brandon says, admitting things were too intense for him.
He moves across the bed toward her, attempting to negotiate the emotional divide demarcated by a teacup. Danny suddenly arrives and calls Eve’s name, dropping the tension instantly and saving the misery of future entanglements.
A Trashy Taste of Gonzo
Jen (Bailey Blue), the girl who took Eve’s job, arrives with Brandon. The slutty blonde provides a trashy taste of gonzo that stands in contrast to the other sex scenes. Rough and raw in a hallway setting, the shoot is quick; no bed needed.
Jen’s oral skills, spiced with doggie and cowgirl, drive the scene. Incidentally, casting Bailey is another Jacky St. James coup. She is the perfect Jen.
When the pop shot is deposited on Jen’s chest, a faraway look blankets a close-up of Brandon’s face. In using the office tramp, Brandon clarifies that he is incapable of dealing with Eve, but unwilling to accept that they exist only in the pages of his journal. Eve’s response is to put in her earbuds to stifle the noise of the sex, erasing Jen’s presence.
For the record, there is no girl/girl sex in the film because it rarely fits a hetero romance unless a gay or bisexual element is attached to the story, or the characters explore personal fantasies. Such scenes in straight movies recall a porn formula evident decades ago, the obligatory and disconnected girl-on-girl sex thrown in to entertain a male audience, something Jacky St. James sees no purpose in resurrecting in this film.
Also, anal and facials are absent, though as professionals Bailey or Remy would gladly accommodate either. And if this were marketed as a gonzo flick, there would be a multiple penetration scene dropped in somewhere, probably a threesome with Eve, Danny, and Brandon.
Finally, a word about editing, Gabrielle Anex’s work is outstanding and particularly appreciated in the close-ups Eddie Powell shoots so beautifully.
Remy’s Lacroix’s second notable acting moment comes as the film heads for its conclusion. At long last, Brandon and Eve have it out. They were friends before they were lovers, she says, until “that weekend” after which he disappeared.
“You don’t value people.” Her voice is inflected with anger and frustration. “You just use them, they’re a means to an end.”
Eve has the proof. “It was a different girl on every single page of that journal . . . there’s no difference between me and them and whatever we had!”
Though Brandon’s expression spins a different take on her words, Eve has chosen to blur the lines between truth and deception and reality and fantasy. But, does anger encourage resolution because she is dead wrong as she will soon discover?
After Brandon says his goodbyes and leaves with his latest lover for an afternoon of fun, Eve checks the house for anything forgotten before she and Danny depart.
In fact, the rooms are filled with much to forget.
Wandering into Brandon’s bedroom, Eve finds his journal on the bed. It’s the final temptation and she weakens.
This journal is solely about her. On the wall is a powerful image that reams the truth out of Eve’s mind. One more black and white photo, it’s a partially dressed girl cowering and shielding her face with her arms.
A note addressed to Eve falls out of the diary and a final flashback occurs, the long awaited sex scene between Brandon and Eve, alive, as if in real time.
Passing the metal artwork, gnarly tales of pity sex, revenge sex, and lost opportunity, Eve closes the front doors of Brandon’s house behind her. She has no key, of course, and cannot lock up her past, or Brandon . . . because temptation and the inaccessible never stop gnawing at the heart.
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