Friday September 11, 1998

     "Hey, what's going on in that head of yours?" says director-writer-star Troy Beyer to her sulky best girlfriend in a key scene from "Let's Talk About Sex." And it's a fair question. The hapless moviegoer may be wondering the same thing. Seemingly, the movie is designed to satisfy our curiosity on that score. An aspiring TV talk-show host (Beyer) is filming a documentary audition tape in Miami with the help of her two gorgeous roommates.
     Fictional scenes of the three friends bonding and wrestling with personal issues are interspersed with footage of actual ordinary real women discussing sex, men, romance and shopping--all the things women really care about. It's "women talking to women about women and women's problems," as Nora Dunn used to say on "Saturday Night Live." But authentic insights are few and far between. All the central conflicts are (to put it kindly) a tad shopworn. Michelle (Paget Brewster) is a cold-blooded "user" who dumps men because she's so afraid of being dumped herself. ("I'm so angry! . . . When does the pain go away?") Her pal Lena (Randi Ingerman) is a sultry doormat who has to learn to respect herself and stop smoking so much pot. ("I'm only human. I hurt, I have feelings, I have needs.")
     And Jazz, the aspiring interviewer, has split from her boyfriend, an understandably puzzled paragon (Joseph C. Phillips), because of an agonizing private disappointment. You know the one, the heartbreak that drives women to pursue careers as an outlet for their frustrated creative energies.
     The odd thing is that the documentary snippets don't feel any more authentic than the fictional bits: You'd expect the mix of tones to be jarring, but for some reason it never is. It's as if the filmmakers and the "real" women had been all watching the same talk shows, so that they draw upon the same handy storehouse of cliches to express even their most private feelings. In that sense, perhaps, "Let's Talk About Sex" is revealing after all, if not quite in the way that Troy Beyer intended.

Let's Talk About Sex, 1998. R for explicit sex-related dialogue throughout, some sex scenes, nudity, language and drug content. A Fine Line Features presentation. Director-screenwriter Troy Beyer. Producer Deborah Ridpath. Co-producer Sara King. Executive producer Susan Ainsworth. Line producer Gary Sales. Director of photography Kelly Evans. Editor Bill Henry. Wardrobe designer Timothy Bile. Music Michael Carpenter. Production designer Joe Arson. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. Troy Beyer as Jazz. Paget Brewster as Michelle. Randi Ingerman as Lena. Joseph C. Phillips as Michael.