Preaching to the Perverted (1997) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual content and language
Running Time: 100 min.

Cast: Guinevere Turner, Christien Anholt, Tom Bell, Julie Graham, Georgina Hale, Julian Wadham
Director:  Stuart Urban
Screenplay: Stuart Urban



Guinevere Turner (Go Fish) stars as dominatrix Tanya Cheex, star of the S&M show at The House of Thwax, an underground London sex club full of leather and latex on display.  The conservatives in Parliament are mortified that the underground perversions are seeping into mainstream society, and one of these politicians has decided to make it his personal crusade to combat these clubs, starting with Tanya Cheex.  Christien Anholt is an ambitious and attractive computer guru that's sent in undercover, with a disguise which conceals a small video camera, trying to capture law-breaking acts in the hopes of prosecuting Cheex and the rest of her cronies.  As they say, deep cover is always a tricky proposition, because sometimes if you get in too deep, you may not get out again.

Stuart Urban writes and directs this ambitious, but mostly misguided, comedy, which rarely succeeds in delivering the goods it intends to.  For a satire, it lacks a certain acuteness, preferring to deal with political angles in some very trite and cartoonish ways.  Toward the end, Urban goes for the dramatic side, but the poignant moments he seeks never come to fruition, as the comedy set-up had remained on a superficial level, making it hard to feel for shallow characters and sensationalistic situations.  As a sex flick, there's lots of titillation in the form of kinky sex acts and nudity, yet most of this is played for laughs or shock, and thus, not very erotic. 

Preaching to the Perverted is a film that achieves little, except perhaps to give you something to talk about around the water cooler tomorrow.   Those who actively participate in the S&M lifestyle may enjoy the lighthearted look at the underground fetish scene, but anyone looking for much more than an offbeat sex comedy is going to be woefully disappointed.  Preaching to the Perverted lives up to its name by not being able to appeal to anyone but perverts.

2003 Vince Leo