Director Paul Thomas does the right thing by pointing out that swinging, though titillating (especially when Andy San Dimas and Jessie Andrews are involved) can do more harm than good to a relationship in “Shared Wives.”Studio: New Sensations
Director: Paul Thomas
Starring: Eric Swiss, Richie Calhoun, Nick Manning, Andy San Dimas, a Dalmatian, Jessie Andrews, Lexi Belle, Evan Stone, Gracie Glam, Brandy Aniston, Paul Thomas
Sluttily-dressed paralegals Mindy and Karla (Andrews and San Dimas) work for oily lawyer Nick Manning in an office atop L.A.’s Library Tower. Each has a problem with her husband. Mindy can’t get Will (Richie Calhoun, most recently of “Love, Marriage & Other Bad Ideas” fame) to loosen up, even when she buys hooker Gracie Glam for an anniversary present. And Karla can’t get Gabe (Eric Swiss) to stop being a tool.
Why do the girls think swinging might be the solution? This is a question the audience must wrestle with, led just far enough by venerable porn screenwriter Raven Touchstone (she is a veteran of a time when screenwriters could make something close to a living in porn, right around the time Jessie Andrews was born).
“It wouldn’t be cheating if we did it together,” says Mindy to Will after he’s chased the dusky Glam away.
Paul Thomas eschews the notion of “Happy People Having Happy Sex,” so the movie is fraught with concern. When the couples finally do get together for dinner Gabe, a cop, lets loose with this desire-killing monologue:
“I see the twisted remains of melted metal that was once a bike, and the wreckage of the humanity and families that are what’s left over of a $12,000 joyride which, yes, crashed, because they didn’t take it seriously.”
The fellows are reluctant to wife-swap, but Karla is adamant:
“Look: we have to push our dudes in the right direction,” she tells Mindy.
The swinger image in porn movies tends to be elegant women with thin wrists clutching long-stemmed wine glasses, each about 10 years younger and 20 lbs. lighter than her counterparts in the wild. They also seem to be having less fun. I don’t know why that is.
But Thomas and Touchstone seem intent on showing us that we are powerless against our urges, which always do us in. At least when sex is mixed with thought and is conducted on couches and beds. Manning’s tryst with Lexi Belle on a desk and Stone’s toilet hoedown with Brandy Aniston are mindless and worry-free.
“Shared Wives” is full of surprising compensations. Beautifully shot and thoughtfully paced—with each sex scene making some kind of sense—it still expects us to believe the wispy Andrews was a former police academy cadet. But a pillow-talk scene between her and Swiss is wonderful. Even though Manning is established as a pussy hound, we don’t believe the bordello-chic of his office dress code. And though Evan Stone hams it up/phones it in as a gay-ish dance instructor, we believe the shocked and piqued look on Andy San Dimas’ face when her husband demands another man kiss her.
Finally, porny contrivances like the very existence of Manning’s character are more than balanced by exchanges like:
“I can see why he’s so attracted to you,” says Karla.
“But you’re the one that he loves,” replies Mindy.
The core cast does great work in and out of clothes, and we don’t mind too much that Andrews is about seven years too young for her role. Swiss and Calhoun make good choices, and San Dimas is similarly confident without being porny.
Wraparound scenes and a twist ending give the narrative an odd bump, as does stock footage that establishes the time as 2004 (the Liberty Tower has had a different sign for eight years), but “Shared Wives” is a solid couples’ movie for couples that actually expect more from porn.
Buy “Shared Wives” here
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Happy People Having Happy Sex”—an interview with Paul Thomas; “Open Invitation”—Capturing the elusive swinger; “Portrait of A Call Girl” has a lot to say
See also: New Sensations