This is a love story. Boy meets girl in the non-threatening coffee shop. Boy finds out girl is a rock drummer by day and stripper by night. Boy shows up at club for a lap dance from girl in the hope of sparking a deeply emotional and intellectually stimulating … well, maybe just stimulating, relationship. Reviewer leaves theater thinking he would have rather watched his laundry swirl in the washing machine for an hour and a half than sit through this film.
Wayne Wang (“Smoke,” “The Joy Luck Club”) attempts to make a statement on effects of technology on personal relationships in his most recent offering “The Center of the World.” The sometimes erotic, if not graphically sexual, content tends to overshadow the consequences of voyeurism through digital media while the script uses nonsensical dialogue to eat up running time. Shot entirely on DV (digital video), the sometimes grainy and handheld visuals are the best format for representing the seedy underbelly of the adult entertainment industry. The movie is extremely visually appropriate, as the technique makes one feel as though they are intruding upon the action as it unfolds. Unfortunately, it is a depressing film that fails to create believable characters because the dialogue comes off as trite, forced and bordering ridiculous.
Richard Longman (Peter Sarsgaard) is a twenty-something, socially inept and sexually frustrated Silicon Valley millionaire. When he meets Florence (Molly Parker) and discovers her alternate persona, he instantly proposes a trip for two to luxurious, romantic – you guessed it – Las Vegas for which Flo will be compensated to the tune of $10,000. She concedes, with due apprehension, to accompany Richard under several conditions, not the least of which is no penetration (sorry smut-lovers).
A freckled nymphette with low self-esteem, Flo grows closer to breaking the arrangement with each passing night. Richard’s charms – which include awkward smiles, personal confessions and computer game prowess – appear to be winning her over. Evidently, dollar bills are not what strippers want. They clearly need to be wined and dined.
Between simulations of hand jobs and milling about casinos, our characters must have something to talk about, something in common if their love is meant to last. Yet their meaningless dialogue made me want to leave my seat in favor of the local watering hole. American theaters need to take a cue from the continent: Start serving beer.
A similar movie was made several years back called “Sliver”. Though that movie was nothing to e-mail home about, at least it didn’t try to be something it was not. An overly pretentious independent film that insults my intelligence is not worth the price of admission. As strippers were once a dime a dance, indie films such as “The Center of the World” are becoming a dime a dozen. So why pay more than 10 cents to see this movie? Put that pocket change to good use at the Laundromat and you’ll have money left over for “College Night” at the Rhino. No cover.