By Don Simpson | March 7, 2011
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez
Starring: Carla Gugino, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Malin Akerman, Adrianne Palicki, Marley Shelton, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Justin Kirk, Vincent Kartheiser
Elektra Luxx, the second installment in director Sebastian Gutierrez’s trilogy, picks up one month after the first film, Women in Trouble ended. Please do not fret, you do not have to see Women in Trouble in order to follow Elektra Luxx — though I strongly recommend watching Women in Trouble nonetheless. Porn blogger extraordinaire Burt Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) gets us all up to date the au naturale blond bombshell Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino channeling Brigitte Bardot) and her recent retirement from a legendary career as an A-list porn star. Elektra is pregnant with her now-deceased rock star boyfriend’s child triggering an existential crisis: What does a retired porn star do? What kind of mother will she be? What will her child think of her?
Cora (Marley Shelton) — a flight attendant — confesses to Elektra that Nick died while riding the friendly skies (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) in an airplane restroom with her. As a condolence, Cora provides Elektra with a stolen stash of Nick’s newest songs — all of which are about Elektra — with the caveat that Elektra utilize her voluptuously feminine wiles to seduce Cora’s husband, whom Cora feels incredibly guilty about cheating on. It is the age old theory that if her hubby cheats on her, then they will be on an even playing field forever more. Elektra reluctantly agrees (for one, she is a porn star not a prostitute), but in a case of mistaken identity she seduces Dellwood (Timothy Olyphant) — a hunky private investigator, definitely not Cora’s hubby — instead. Oopsies! And that one itsy bistsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini of a mistake snowballs into an out of control avalanche. These are the mad cap forays that daytime soap operas are made of!
There are multiple subplots and sidebars, including one about up-and-coming porn star Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki). Poor Holly is not the “sharpest [s]tool in the shed” and her feeble little brain is wrestling with the question of whether or not she should reveal that she has sexy dreams about her best friend Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) with whom she is on vacation in Mexico. Neither Holly nor Bambi are lesbians — they both enjoy the occasional nip of a Dickens’ cider — but Holly definitely craves more intimacy from her best friend.
One of the many moralistic morsels to be found within Gutierrez’s complex narrative is, to quote Burt Rodriguez: “Porn stars are people, too.” Another is that human sexuality involves a whole lot more gray areas than black and white; the line between hetero and homo is as blurred as the definition of love itself.
The structure of Gutierrez’s story closely resembles that of soap operas, with a constant bouncing back and forth between seemingly unrelated tales and a few dream sequences tossed in for good measure. With Elektra Luxx, Gutierrez chooses to focus mostly on Elektra and Burt, but allows plenty of precious screen time for presumably concurrent subplots involving Holly, Cora, Dellwood, Elektra’s neighbor Jimmy (Vincent Kartheiser), as well as Burt’s sister Olive (Amy Rosof) and love interest Trixie (Malin Ackerman). Some critics have criticized Gutierrez’s ADHD approach to film making, but it does allow him to flash his true cojones: his keen knack for crafting intriguing, beguiling and profound female characters. (Julianne Moore’s all too brief cameo is truly inspired by genius.) To quote one of my favorite Robyn Hitchcock songs (one that also happens to be cleverly showcased in an Elektra Luxx dream sequence): “All I wanna do is fall in love” with each and every one of Gutierrez’s ladies. Gutierrez apparently loves and respects his female characters, avoiding any gratuitous nudity, and shows more male nudity than female; a strategy that plays in brilliant opposition to the porn industry.
The icing on the proverbially verbose cake is Gutierrez’s playful use of witty and humorous dialogue. There is no pretension of realism here, as each sentence is precisely manicured and coiffed (just like the characters) for the utmost comedic effect. Sure the scenes seem overtly staged but that is precisely the point…I mean have you ever listened to the dialogue of a porn flick or a soap opera?