In my current survey of all the Adam & Eve releases over the years, I was quite disappointed with this early title. Writer-director Thomas Paine was far better at writing pamphlets and essays in the 18th Century than this modern incarnation's crafting of screenplays.
The Coen Bros. are current masters of the shaggy-dog story: dragging out a narrative with bizarre and implausible events, the pointlessness of which becomes the fun (if you dig it). For Paine, this approach is merely pointless and quite lazy.
Watching "The Other Woman" will not raise the specter of the Coens in anyone's mind, but it did put me in mind of the great surrealist Luis Bunuel. Some of his best '70s films like "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" utilize a tantalizing structure of a guy relating a highly implausible story to folks, who keep interrupting him at key points, whenever it becomes too ridiculous and the viewer himself is wondering what gives.
Paine adopts this useful structure, as our hero Michael J. Cox, giving a winning performance with his sheepishness and everyman/little guy not unlike his famous movie & TV star namesake, tells his buddies at a poker game his troubles. Action is all in flashback and of the sexual variety, with frequent returns to the poker table for reactions to his perhaps fanciful or at least gussied up tale.
Problem is that Cox's story is uninteresting. Like so many '80s and '90s video junkers, the need to present wall-to-wall sex within a feature-length framework had pornographers constructing some artificial and flimsy "story" on which to hang the requisite sex scenes. In 21st Century gonzo-dominated porn, this charade has largely been dispensed with: directors win awards and chart-topping sales merely by photographing people having sex in luxurious settings with no characters or narrative whatsoever.
As the title proclaims, Cox's dilemma is that another woman comes between him and the woman he falls in love with, a neighbor played by Carolina. The lesbian switch on this familiar film noir motif is not significant, just par for the course in porn.
The title might have been plural, because even though Shanna McCullough is technically the "other woman" Cox catches his lady in bed with, she is taking up with several other women. He's the odd man out, and too bad.
Plenty of other sex scenes are tossed in involving the two buddies Cox has in flashback, notably Steve Hatcher who improbably plays a character headed off to study history at Oxford in England. No offense to actor Hatcher, but here and in numerous other films I've seen him in he resembles some guy from high school shop class rather than a potential Rhodes scholar.
Cox gets his share of sex scenes, particularly a submissive one with two lovely ladies Johnni Black and Natasha Love, who happen to be dancers dating his buddies (but nothing is made of their infidelity at all). He also performs some good slapstick routines, crashing into garbage cans or other impediments as he runs down the street in a daze, love- drunk. He goes bareback most of the way but wears a condom in one scene, perhaps porn's notion of "semi-safe sex".
It's not worth spoiling, but the film's sudden ending was truly terrible, so slapdash as to have cryptic elements to it for me, surely unintended by Paine. In a time frame when Adam & Eve was rising to become the most consistently interesting story- porn label out there, this was quite a loser.
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