WANK OR WATCH | Powder Blue
In October 2009 the film Powder Blue was released into cinemas and yet six months prior to that a clip from the movie, more than three minutes in length, hit the internet showing Jessica Biel performing as a dancer in a strip bar. The scene is ridiculously hot but is also peppered with emotion and revolves around her staring, teary-eyed at Eddie Remayne who is looking on with a mixture of bemusement and pity. She dances in a way that it is almost impossible not to find attractive but it is definitely not a vaccuous, Halle Berry in Swordfish style scene. It hurts emotionally even watching it out of context.
The clip actually sums the film up pretty well. Set in L.A., (seemingly a place with absolutely no hope of any sort) every character is damaged and the film sets about dumping more and more shit upon them, gut-punching them until they can take no more so that when the film then offers them a moment of potential joy they shun it because they can’t believe that they might deserve such pleasure. The film pivots around Biel’s stripper (with the exception of Forrest Whittaker who probably gives the best performance but is part of an entirely detached, more interesting narrative albeit still set around in this world of broken souls) and Ray Liotta as an ex-con trying to make peace, Remayne as an outcast trying to save his father’s undertaker business, Kudrow as a diner waitress who seems to be clutching to her last chip of hope wondering who or what to gamble on and Biel herself all give remarkable performances so that, even when the film is at its most unbelievable it never becomes ridiculous.
And the film does get unbelievable, whether it is the disappointing ending or a scene towards the end involving Whittaker in a church, the flaws tend to come only once the film-makers have to decide how to conclude their tale. By that point I was so invested in the characters that I found it regretable rather than annoying or jarring, but I could see others feeling all of those. This movie is dripping with the same regret and disappointment as films like 21 Grams and would be a dreadful choice if already feeling down, but it is also amongst my most affecting watches of the year so far.
Wank or Watch: Watch
p.s. couldn’t find a natural place to insert this within the piece but it needs to be mentioned that this also features Partick Swayze as the owner of the strip club and, despite being under-used, it acts as another reminder of how sadly he will be missed.