Projections - Movie Reviews

The Center of the World

The Center of the World

Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Parker play characters who meet in a tantalizing duet that shows director Wayne Wang in his more thoughtful and cutting edge state of mind as dot-com fantasy and stage gratification unite in The Center of the World.

Back in his independent cinema turf, Wang explores through Sarsgaard's boyish Richard as his computer engineer hits a rut of plaintive solitude and finds a real flesh for fantasy at the trendy strip club where Parker's little Florence moonlights as a stripper and lap dancer.  Despite good looks, modesty and enormous wealth with start-ups and IPO's, he gets her services after a lurid introduction for a large fee which can help with bills as she struggles as a drummer in a rock band.

Here, he gets his impetus from what drives sexual fantasy and the power one can exert while harnessing the lustful guilt of many.  The premise of bringing fulfillment to one's life isn't new, even in today's digital age as Wang's millennial reworking of The Last Tango in Paris is attentive to the effect of voyeurism also done with panache by the acclaimed visual director Mike Figgis in Timecode.

The Center of the World moves in and out of the steamy Pandora's Box where Richard and Flo meet and hand-held cameras from beta to digital provide an intimate arc to a relationship that resembles Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas and the dynamically edited Requiem For A Dream.

Wang finds pleasure in his empirical approach which insinuates flashbacks and flash forward tendencies with the bulk of the explicit activity taking place in the five-star suite.  Her regulations on the nature of their relationship has an initial fascination like Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth xShue shared in the poignant Vegas film.

Their agreement undergoes a change of sorts as Flow begins to show strong signs of attraction to the boyish dot-com engineer who will have 20 million dollars by movie's end.  Wang underlies the proceedings with ambiguity that comes with both of their ideas about sex and the commitment that entails it.  From shifting points of view, this duet has an urgency to its surveillance as one wonders if both will break out of their shells as each is dislocated in a way, her while being a sex goddess and him busy on his trio of monitors which have been his life.

In the end The Center of the World becomes more nebulous and interpretative as we're not sure of the status of Richard and Flow as Wang's world here doesn't mean foreclosure.  But Sarsgaard and Parker have made us feel for their quiet desperation in quenching their passions which are guarded by cautious overtones.  Wang can disturb and stimulate us in an intimate voyeuristic diary that has panache but feels a little too detached in a medium that becomes exploitative by an obsessive man who feels that the world is always at this fingertips.

The Center of the World

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