B+ Sex Comedy
- Written by Theresa Rebeck
- Directed by Amy Glazer
Charlie Barker (Stephen Barker Turner) is not a happy man, and wild sex with a young, gorgeous, horny, yet stupid sociopath will not improve anything. Seducing Charlie Barker starts as a comedy and grows serious, a trick few films successfully pull off. It helps here that, even in the early scenes, it’s a pretty serious comedy.
An unemployed actor with talent but little sense of how to manage a career, Charlie depends financially on his wife Stella (Daphne Zuniga), who hates her high-pay, high-pressure behind-the-scenes job on a TV talk show. The two are planning to adopt a Chinese orphan, and Stella wants Charlie to kiss the asses needed to revive his career. I have no idea if this film is at all autobiographical, but if it is, I suspect that Stella is a stand-in for screenwriter Theresa Rebeck.
Then Charlie meets Clea (newcomer Heather Gordon, in a performance that would make her a star if the movie gets decent exposure). Before you can say “My place or yours,” they’re banging away like hopefuls auditioning for the sexual Olympics.
Clea is obviously bad news from the start. Stunningly beautiful in an artificial, Hollywood way, she’s a motormouth with very serious entitlement issues. She’s the type of person who brags that she doesn’t drink, asks for a vodka, then acts offended when people don’t take her sobriety seriously.
I’m not giving anything away by telling you that Charlie pays for his adultery to the point of homelessness. You’re told as much at the very beginning of the movie.
Director Amy Glazer handles the actors well and keeps the film well-paced, although at times the movie feels like a stage play (Rebeck first wrote it as one, called The Scene). This is a writer’s and actors’ movie, and Glazer wisely avoids fancy flashes of auteurism.
A ruthless but beautiful woman can make a man do anything except break bad habits. Clea lacks the brains necessary for a film noir femme fatale; she’s not going to lead Charlie into a murder. But we can still enjoy watching her mess up his life.
I saw Seducing Charlie Barker on a screener DVD before it screened at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival.