Aging American rocker Bill (Iggy Pop) lives in a luxurious, remote Spanish villa with beautiful English wife Isabelle (Kacey Clarke).
For a time, the only other presence there is young Spaniard David (Antonio Magro), who tends to their pool and the villa's grounds. It soon becomes apparent that, as in love as Bill and Isabelle appear to be, she has physical designs on buff young David.
Sure enough, she has her way with him ... telling him shortly afterwards that he'll have to do better "next time".
It transpires that Bill, who's painfully aware that the illness he suffers from is slowly making him blind, is all too aware of his wife's philandering ways. But, so long as she follows certain rules - never professes her love, only sleeps with them three times, and so on - all is good between them. Isabelle, in fairness, seems quite besotted with her cool husband ... she's just very highly sexed. And very sexy!
Someone not so understanding of her ways is Lucas (Ben Lamb). He's an entitled British prick who turns up at the villa, having tracked Isabelle down after some relentless investigative work. Isabelle was formerly married to Lucas' elderly, millionaire father, and went on to inherit his estate upon his death. This has knocked Lucas' nose out of joint and he's there, he says, to get the share of his daddy's wealth that he believes he's owed. Of course, there's also the possibility that he still pines for Isabelle's affections, having been another of her three-times-only conquests...
Bill is surprisingly lucid about Lucas' arrival. He welcomes the guy into his villa and allows him to stay indefinitely, even taking him out one afternoon to indulge in a spot of his favourite pastime - shooting at the local wild rabbits in the surrounding fields.
But Lucas is determined to make Isabelle pay for robbing him and his family of their inheritance. When he sees that her latest quarry is the somewhat naive David, he begins to hatch a plan which he hopes will result in her downfall...
BLOOD ORANGE is a curious proposition. There are four players in its stage-like scenario. The plot has a classic noirish set-up to it, and feels agreeably claustrophobic in its own single-setting, existential bubble. It's reliant on character development and a few minor twists, as opposed to major set-pieces.
Above anything else, it has the feel of a quirky 90s indie flick. You know, THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD, TWO DAYS IN THE VALLEY, RED ROCK WEST ... those kind of films. From its slick, sun-kissed cinematography to its self-consciously hip alt-rock soundtrack, to the casting of an "interesting" lead (Pop), to the considered pace and low-key action, to the sassy, pithy dialogue. We've lived through this all before. Though, it still provides a fair degree of entertainment.
Pop is endlessly watchable, for example. He's not the greatest actor - I wasn't sure whether his trademark slow, deep drawl really didn't suit proceedings or oddly fitted in with his illness - but his screen presence is undeniable. We like him. Lamb is convincingly slimy; a whining, untrustworthy, conniving fool with a grudge to bear. Clarke, meanwhile ... well, she's not the finest actor but she is quite remarkable on a visual level. Frequently seen in various degrees of undress, she really is drop-dead gorgeous. Which is kind of imperative to the plot.
The story is rather small as a whole and the characters, though developed, don't interest a great deal. So, although entirely watchable at all times, the end result is a film that holds the attention while not feeling satisfying afterwards. The finale is somewhat predictable and anti-climactic.
Is it "about" something? Have I failed to read further into its (on the surface) rather mundane screenplay. I don't think I have - I get that writer-director Toby Tobias may wish to challenge the conventions of commitment, and ask his audience to determine their own distinctions between love and lust. But it remains a drama which is mildly diverting, as opposed to engrossing or tense, as a result.
Handsomely photographed, BLOOD ORANGE is nevertheless a film that soon erases itself from its viewer's memory. It's neither hard-boiled or erotic enough to meet its ambition of being an authentic neo-noir prospect.
Still, it looks very good on Metrodome's UK screener DVD. It's presented uncut in its original 2.35:1 ratio and enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Warm hues and rich colours do justice to the luscious cinematography, while close-up scenes are remarkable sharp and defined. With stable blacks and fine detail, I found little to quibble over here in this presentation.
I don't recall having any beef with the film's fine, evenly balanced and clean English 2.0 audio track either.
This early test disc didn't have any menus or extras.
BLOOD ORANGE looks great and holds the attention. It's nice to see part-time actor Iggy Pop (ATOLLADERO etc) bag a lead role, and Clarke is a sight for sore eyes. But the film falls well short of being a classic, or even a must-see curiosity. It's adequate as drama, and nothing more.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Metrodome|
|see main review|