The Principles of Lust
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
principles of lust Set in the North of England, this intriguing romantic drama starts well then shifts gears so drastically that it loses all its steam. Paul (Newman) is a hapless writer in Sheffield who meets two people who'll change his life: Billy (Warren) is a photographer who lives life on the very edge, shooting pictures of bare-knuckle boxers and indulging in exceedingly illicit quantities of drugs and sex with his stripper girlfriend (Clifton) and others. The second person is Juliette (Guillory), a single mother whose young son Harry (Popplewell) falls for Paul almost as hard as she does. Jump forward a few months: Paul, Juliette and Harry are a happy family, although Paul is starting to feel the pangs of a relationship settling. Where has the lust gone? Well, Billy can certainly help with that!

This is an extremely well-made film--beautifully written, directed, shot, edited and scored--and from the opening scene we know writer-director Woolcock isn't going to pull any punches. She dives into her characters and situations with a refreshing, unblinking honesty, capturing the natural energy in each type of interaction--sexual, violent, emotional. And the cast is good as well, taking us deep into the characters with them. Newman is especially strong, and we vividly feel Paul's frustration, although when he starts acting out his restlessness the film leaves us in the dust. It suddenly becomes a Fight Club-like underworld trawl, replacing the raw animal-like sex with drug trips and brutal pre-teen boxing matches. Interesting, this freaky shift leaves the film suddenly dull and lifeless. We no longer care about anyone when they so obviously don't care about themselves, or each other. While the sharp script examines ideas of masculinity and romance, it fumbles the ball right when it matters most. This is a real pity, because the film shows a lot of potential. But by the end, we just want to get out of the cinema as soon as we can.

cert 18 themes, language, nudity, violence, sex, drugs 13.Oct.03

dir-scr Penny Woolcock
with Alec Newman, Marc Warren, Sienna Guillory, Lara Clifton, Julian Barratt, Alexander Popplewell, Tommy Yates, Gwyn Hollis, Colin Nutton, Kelly Hollis, Nisha Nayar, Dylan Fielding
release UK 12.Mar.04
03/UK 1h48

Chilling out: Guillory, Newman and Warren.

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... principles of lust Patrick Rankin, Faunsdale, AL: 2.5/5 "I would not have watched this movie except for Sienna Guillory. Apart from her I think its pretty bad. Very disturbingly graphic. The story may have some deep artistic or profound meaning, but on the surface, I was thinking the whole time,'why would she do this film?'" (9.Sep.04)

Eric Ross, Israel: 4.5/5 "Although intellectually somewhat lame and muddy this is by all means a truely creative and original work, remarkably directed and acted. i'll take a significant film like this anytime over all the 'arty' or big pictues from the production line." (23.Sep.04)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall