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A Perfect Ending

Year: 2012
Production Co: Soul Kiss Films
Director: Nicole Conn
Writer: Nicole Conn
Cast: Barbara Niven, Jessica Clark, John Heard, Morgan Fairchild

Cued up in my Netflix list after the gorgeous Below Her Mouth, this lesbian drama isn't as successful. Rebecca (Barbara Niven) is the wealthy wife of a successful businessman (John Heard) and has a perfect life on the surface with her beloved post-teen kids, except that she's completely sexually unfulfilled, never even having had an orgasm.

When she confides in her two best gay friends and tentatively admits to a secret attraction to women, they suggest an encounter with a woman might be what she needs. Through a cousin that runs a high priced escort service (Morgan Fairchild, and what a trip to see her bronzed, blonded, artificially age-preserved self on a screen after so long), they arrange a liaison with the svelte, jaguar-like Paris (Jessica Clark) in a hotel room.

After a few fits and starts of Rebecca giving in to nerves and throwing Paris out, they finally end up in bed together, giving the former the experience she's craved her whole adult life. After a few more meetings in which we see a tastefully erotic number of beautifully-shot sex scenes, Rebecca is soon completely smitten with the younger woman.

The subplots that fill the rest of the story involve the financial misdealings of her husband dispensing company stock to their two sons but not their daughter (who's not his), and a dark, buried secret nobody wants to talk about but which doesn't ring very true when it's revealed.

None of the rest of particularly adds much, but there are a few unexpected bright spots like the characterisation of Paris. Clark isn't an Oscar contender by any means, but she plays the escort as calm, quiet and assured, a nice counterpoint to Rebecca's nervier skittishness.

The downside to it is that I didn't believe for a minute that she'd fallen in love as readily as Rebecca had, maybe down to Clark's limits as an actress or the script making her so emotionally inert. The flashbacks that reveal the tragedy that's befallen Paris' own life are also dreadfully cack handed, her dark secret like something out of a bad soap.

Writer/director Nicole Conn is nevertheless a visualist and an artist – there are a lot of cinematic motifs like the escort service scheduling system made of Barbie dolls that represent the girls and the calls they're out on. She also includes a lot of snippets and sequences that look like they were taken straight from expensive perfume commercials, Paris sitting in a completely white environment with furniture scattered around her, dressed in a white slip and sitting on the floor looking despondent.

Then there's the artwork Paris is doing using a series of dots made by a marker, animated colours like wind flowing through it. There are a lot of scenes of her working on drawings in her studio, and a whole lot of other 'mood' shots that start to feel like filler and leave you wishing the movie would just get on with it. It made the whole thing drag, and the slight midday movie production value didn't help.

Curiously for a director seemingly so artistically minded, there were also problems in the editing, where cuts from one angle to another revealed too many syncing problems in the action, and they jarred.

I stuck with it for the attractive leads and the soul-taking-flight theme I always like about movies in this limited genre, but it's not as rewarding as the rest.

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