Friday, March 21, 2014

Red Shoe Diaries (1992)

After the tragic suicide of his fiancee, a young man uncovers the diary of his would-be spouse and learns to his devastation of a sexual affair which had slowly divided the heart of his lover and led her to take her own life.  His fiancee's suicide embarks this man on a journey for understanding that will in no short time be completed.  The drama in daytime soap operas cannot compare to the degree of lust, eroticism, and unhindered human impulse captured in director Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries, the 1992 Showtime film which started the similarly-titled television series.

David Duchovny delivers a mesmerizing performance as architect and perfect-husband-material Jake Winters.  For fans of The X-Files with a wide palette for TV and movie genres, the satisfaction gained from viewing FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder uncover the romantic conspiracy and the love triangle that threw his life into disarray is more than I can explain.  Duchovny once again takes the role of tortured soul and expresses his agony more articulately than any actor I've seen.

The memory of his fiancee Alex plays hypnotically throughout the film, a beautiful woman spinning in the light, a pirouette repeated.  The emotionally distraught Alex is played by Brigitte Bako.  For a mental picture, imagine Jennifer Connelly meets Estella Warren.  Between the scenes of Jake's memories of Alex are the secrets revealed from her diary.  Jake is safe and comforting, the man she'd marry and does truly love, but on a busy Los Angeles street she falls into the strong arms of an alluring construction worker/part-time shoe salesman (played by Billy Wirth), and the affair begins.

"There's no rationalization for the attraction between two people; it just kinda happens, like accidents...magic, alchemy, chemistry, electro-magnetic-vibratory-trans-forces...the stuff that moved the pyramids. Right now I could balance a block in front of my pants."

"Perfect boy, perfect ploy, perfect contender in a battle that's already been won...someone so different from Jake there's no contest, no conflict, no competition, no confusion...perfect secret."

"I told you I could move stone blocks with my cock. You were curious, and here you are. Why don't you take off your clothes?"

"He made love like he worked on the street: tender as a jackhammer."

"I'm like one of those dogs you see at the park, they'll have to turn a fire hose on me to get me off you."

These lines probably seem laughable, but in the context of the film they're delivered with such conviction and intensity that in the midst of nudity (bare breast, nipples, flanks, silhouetted vaginal outlines) and the effects of sexual affair within what was a monogamous relationship, it's all quite serious for not only the characters but also the viewer.

The topical artistic elements of Red Shoe Diaries add to its atmosphere without detracting from the universal identity of the archetypal relationship roles which the film portrays.  That early '90s style with the baggiest of dress slacks, slow-motion emphasis for effect of dropped groceries and fruit rolling down the stairs or the reverberating glass of a thrown object breaking on impact, those bluesy electric guitar and saxophone solos ("You Never Really Know" by Bon Jovi lead guitarist Richie Sambora could rival any backing guitar or sax from the Lethal Weapon movies for effect).  These added touches all play.

Red Shoe Diaries speaks to those viewers with passionate hearts and is an undeniable example of soap opera drama executed to the highest caliber.  That young David Duchovny, pining for what was, for what can never be again, not to blame for what happened yet unable to comprehend, it's mesmerizing.  Red Shoe Diaries competently demonstrates what makes a person call in from a payphone a request for such a classified ad:

Women, do you keep a diary? Have you been betrayed? Have you betrayed another? Man, 35, wounded and alone, recovering from the loss of once-in-a-lifetime love. Looking for reasons why. Willing to pay top dollar for your experiences. Please send diary to Red Shoes....All submissions are strictly confidential.