Movie Reviews : 'Junction' of Love, Reality

Zalman King's "Two Moon Junction" (citywide) is a genuine rarity in mainstream American movies: a passionate love story presented with honest-yet-tasteful sexual candor--and without sniggers, kinkiness or violence. Unlike pornography, it takes place in a recognizably real world. It is a much better film than "9 1/2 Weeks," which King wrote and produced.

On the surface, Sherilyn Fenn's April would seem to have everything while Richard Tyson's Perry has nothing more than his truck, motorbike "and a post-office box in Clearwater, Fla." April is the ultimate Southern belle, breathtakingly beautiful, whose family is rich, powerful and aristocratic. Her fiance (Martin Hewitt), whom she is to marry in two weeks, is handsome and as privileged as she is. April is as gracious and dutiful as one would expect of a person of her breeding.

But once she locks eyes with Perry, a carnival roustabout, she is immediately thrown into conflict with the future that has been so thoroughly planned for her. Long-haired, tanned and sleekly muscled, Perry is a Greek god and he knows it. He is as spectacular as she is, and it would be inconceivable for them not to be instantly and intensely attracted to each other.

If any two people could get by on looks alone, it would be these two. But, just as newcomers Fenn and Tyson prove to be capable, likable actors, King has taken care to make April and Perry believable, involving people. April knows exactly what's at stake if she should lose her head over Perry, just as he realizes he might lose his precious freedom if he were actually to fall for her. From this timeless predicament King works up a surprising amount of suspense while he succinctly sketches in a most persuasive portrait of upper-crust Southern society.

King brings a bold visual style to his love story that might seem flashy if it were not so apt an expression of the couple's heady lust for each other. There have been longer and more explicit love scenes in R-rated movies than there are in this film. However, they are scorchers for sure, both for the physical splendor of the film's stars and for what King leaves to the imagination.

Kristy McNichol is terrific as an earthy hairdresser with a great sense of humor. She's one of Perry's girls who befriends rather than resents April--and is perhaps even more than a little attracted to April herself. In her brief appearance McNichol leaves a tantalizing impression of sexual ambiguity. By the same token, Louise Fletcher is memorable as April's glamorous, platinum-blond grandmother who recognizes her own passionate nature in her granddaughter and is prepared to go to extremes to curb it. Burl Ives is her good friend, the local sheriff.

"Two Moon Junction" (rated an appropriate R) is daring and decidedly vulnerable, not for what it shows or suggests, but for merely taking sex seriously.

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