Nature Morte (Paul Burrows, 2006)
Nature Morte has everything--a compelling script, gorgeous locations, one of the better soundtracks I've heard in recent years (composed by Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees), girl-on-girl action that's hotter than anything you're likely to find in any softcore and most hardcore films, an always-surprising mystery angle, some passable gore... yep, it's got everything. Everything, that is, except for the talent needed to pull all this together in what could have been the best erotic thriller of the decade, not to mention the first true erotic thriller/gore film crossover. So many possibilities, all so deliciously close to the surface.
The main thread of the film has to do with an art historian, Oliver Davenport (Killing Time 24/7's Troy McFadden), who's an expert on a deceased artist believed to have been a serial killer known as the Marseilles Monster. When a new painting turns up that could only have been painted by the artist after his death, Davenport and French policeman Georges (Jeso Vial) head to a small island off the coast of Thailand to find out if, perhaps, the Marseilles Monster had an accomplice.
It's great stuff, and as the film progresses, it gets greater and greater, with the exception of one thing--the acting. Troy McFadden was about as wrong a choice as one could have come up with to play Davenport (okay, it's possible Ron Jeremy would have been less appropriate, but that's arguable); his delivery is not so much wooden as it is sheet metal, one note that's in a constant state of shimmer. And really, if not for McFadden, I think this movie would likely have gotten a much better reception than it has. Really, there's not a single other thing wrong with this movie. I grant you, it takes a little more attention than most films of this stripe take, which I'm sure some people had a problem with. If you follow it, though, the reward at the end is more than worth it. I just wish a bit more care had been taken with casting the lead role. ***