Being a fan of "Women In Trouble", the first chapter of the "Women" trilogy by filmmaker Sebastian Guitterez ("Rise: Blood Hunter", co-wrote "Snakes On A Plane"), I looked forward to see the follow-up, "Elektra Luxx". Why? It's just nice to see an indie sequel, and I survived the "Transformers" saga.
The story reintroduces the title character from "WIT", played by the lovely Carla Gugino ("Watchmen", "Frank Miller's Sin City", "Sucker Punch" and Mr. Guitterez's old lady). Retired from the adult film industry to her being knocked up by a now-late rock star, Elektra makes a living as (what else) a seduction teacher for the ladies at a community center.
Things seem easygoing, until shaky flight stewardess Cora (Marley Shelton, another "WIT" alum, "Grindhouse"), the reason of said rock star's passing (they had Mile High sex), appears with a forgiveness plea, a plethora of songs about the ex-skin flick starlet, penned by the rock star, and a proposition to seduce her fiancée. However, hunky shamus Dell (Emmy-nominee Timothy Olyphant of "Deadwood" and "Justified"), hunting for the songs, gets mistaken for the real fiancée (Justin Kirk of "Animal Practice"), putting Elektra in a self-reflective funk.
There are two sidebar plots here. Elektra's old porn compeer, dim-bulb Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki of "Friday Night Lights: The Series") deals with her growing sexual feelings for her gal pal, harlot Bambi Lindberg (spunky Emmanuelle Chriqui of "Entourage" and "Thundercats 2.0"). Sex blogger/fanboy Bert Rodriguez (a daffy Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "Inception") bemoans over the retirement of his favorite skin film thespian (is there such a thing?) while clueless of the feelings towards him from drug store clerk Trixie (sunny Malin Akerman of "Watchmen" and "Wanderlust"). Isn't love grand?
Like "WIT", "Luxx" is a Skinamax film meets a Lifetime film meets a Kevin Smith film. It's doesn't have the right to good with its sexual frankness (never be trapped in an elevator with a naked guy, ladies!) and minuscule production values, but it does, due to Mr. Guitterez's gonzo, breezy and inventive script and direction and the actors he has.
Echoing Rita Hayworth without Production Code rules, Ms. Gugino's so inventive here (she even plays an incarcerated twin sister with a lisp), it's bizarre she's not an A-list thespian. Ms. Palicki twists the dumb beauty stereotype to hilarious and thoughtful heights to combat Ms. Chriqui's to the letter practicality. It's weird and funny, as Rodriguez, who still lives his mom, that Mr. Levitt would elevate an exploitative medium to an art form while Mr. Olyphant, like in "Catch & Release", is a stud with a soul. Ms. Akerman will probably get more room to breathe in the upcoming third chapter "Women In Ecstasy". Who knew drug store clerks can be so damn cute?
Other cast members add to the proceedings: Kathleen Quinlain ("Breakdown", "Apollo 13") is a Jackie Collins-like scribe; Isabella Guitterez (the filmmaker's niece) reprises her old soul kid role from "WIT"; Amy Rosoff is Bert's spitfire sister who wants to be an Internet pin-up girl; Vincent Kartheiser is the naked schmuck in the elevator (!) and Oscar nominee Julianne Moore ("The Big Lebowski") has an uncredited part as the Virgin Mary (!).
If you get the DVD, you'll notice Eric Stoltz ("Pulp Fiction", "Modern Love") gets a "Back to the Future" treatment in the deleted scenes section as he plays the hubby of one of Elektra's students. The faux trailer of Elektra's last film (Sergio Leone meets Russ Meyer) is a hoot as it follows the end credits scroll.
It's not Oscar material, but "Luxx" has enough heart to be better than an average sexploitation romp.
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