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VIDEO DISCOVERY

'Crimes of Passion' Takes a Gritty Look at Sexual Attitudes

January 17, 1991|MARK CHALON SMITH

When it was released in 1984, some critics went bonkers over Ken Russell's "Crimes of Passion," judging it as almost the final examination of America's warped sexual attitudes.

That's going too far; for "Crimes of Passion" is really just an eye-popping, raw black comedy, both blatant and ribald in its vision of sexual dysfunction.

Russell, a sometimes-good, often-bad filmmaker known for the sensational image, makes no pretense about his interest here--he wanted to graphically present the libidinous in all its heavy and silly permutations, and that's just what he did. Because most of it is so uncompromising (and funny, in a slick-sick way), you can forgive the banal love story Russell tosses in to soften the edge.

At the center is Kathleen Turner as an upscale fashion designer by day and sadomasochistic hooker (she purringly calls herself "China Blue") by night. While sleazing from one demeaning assignation to another, she's shadowed by Tony Perkins, a 100% loon who thinks he's a priest. Perkins wears a soiled frock and carries a steel dildo with a sharpened tip.

Obviously, this one's not for the kids.

"Crimes of Passion" (1984), directed by Ken Russell. 101 minutes. Available in both R- and X-rated versions.

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