“Addicted” doesn’t know whether it wants to be a modern-day bodice-ripper, a morality-tinged cautionary tale or a serious snapshot of sexual compulsion. Whatever the case, it fails on all fronts.
The film, adapted by Christina Welsh and Ernie Barbarash from the novel by bestselling author Zane (she’s been called the queen of erotica), attempts to invest us in one Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal of “Dreamgirls”). She’s a successful Atlanta art dealer with a great house and picture-perfect family including her ultra-ideal husband, Jason (Boris Kodjoe, effective). Although Zoe and Jason have been together since high school, they still keep the romantic fires burning; we’re told they sometimes, uh, stoke said fires two or three times a day -- and regularly declare their eternal love for each other.
But the real Zoe, the one who’s bubbling beneath that beautiful, capable exterior, surfaces when she meets the talented, impossibly hunky artist Quinton (William Levy). Their first business assignation turns sexual, despite her protests of “I can’t!” She does, and they do -- a lot.
Architect Jason buys Zoe’s lame excuses for her ongoing absences for far too long; he’s painted as too savvy a guy to not wise up pretty quickly. The same goes for Zoe’s seemingly observant live-in mother (Margaret Howell). As for Zoe’s therapist (Tasha Smith), she’s frankly terrible and, in reality, would have raised the brightest red flag from the get-go.
Then there’s the wreck that quickly becomes Zoe’s company. Sure, its demise is possible, but it’s unconvincingly drawn. Zoe doesn’t even try to keep it together -- in any way -- if only to allay the fears of her co-workers, particularly devoted best friend Brina (Emayatzy Corinealdi).
As if all this juggling wasn’t enough, Zoe takes up with a super-hot club guy (Tyson Beckford) who introduces her to the kink.
Of course, this will all come crashing down on Zoe. The problem, however, is how we get there. In the hands of director Bille Woodruff (“Honey,” “Beauty Shop”), the film lacks propulsion. This should be one hot-button thrill ride, but the only real energy here is sexual. And, after a while, even that gets old. (Trimming a good 10 minutes from this sudser would have helped.)
In addition, it takes forever for the words “sex addict” to be uttered with regard to Zoe. By the time the “She’s sick, she can’t help herself” defense surfaces, it feels indefensible. She lost us long ago.
Some risible dialogue, preposterous plotting and a highly unsatisfying look at the psychology of sex addiction further undermine the proceedings. And despite his knockout looks, Levy (“The Single Moms Club”) doesn’t have the acting chops to sell his pivotal role.
MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, brief drug use
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Playing: In general release