Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Preaching to the Perverted (1997)

Like horror films, romantic comedies have pretty defined tropes.  And after you've seen a few of them, you can probably recognise the story beats: meeting, initial attraction, then misunderstandings and complications to keep them apart until the movie ends.

The predictability of the form can make it tough to have your film stand out unless you have a 'hook', such as giving the film an unusual setting, or an uncommonly inventive idea for complicating things (such as Grosse Point Blank's 'one of them is a hitman', for instance).

In British rom-com Preaching to the Perverted, this 'hook' is that our star-crossed lovers are a fetish club dominatrix with an aversion to penetrative sex, and the (male) government agent secretly trying to gather evidence she's breaking decency laws.

Which is a pretty high level of complication for the relationship to overcome, really!

Unfortunately, the film singularly fails to overcome those complications in any believable manner.  I mean, I can't comment on the movie's authenticity to fetish clubs or the BDSM scene in general, but I do know when a narrative relies too heavily on contrivance, and that's definitely the case here.  The events of the last 15 minutes of the film happen because the writers needed them to in order to have a happy ending after the government agent's treachery is revealed.  If you want to watch a rom-com about a criminal and the agent pursuing her falling in love, watch DEBS instead.

I do need to call out the supporting cast of Preaching to the Perverted, though.  Both Tom Bell, as the moral crusader who employs the male lead to infiltrate the fetish scene; and Julie Graham as the dominatrix's right hand woman, turn in very entertaining performances.

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