CRIMES OF PASSION is dedicated to the refugees of the sexual revolution, its angry men and empty women. It is a gripping adult drama, as erotically violent as it is intellectually satisfying.
Kathleen Turner gives her most aggressive performance since "Body Heat." She's part "Klute," part Crawford -- a sexual powerbroker by night and a fashion designer by day. She's tough and tragicomic as the hooker China Blue, aloof and disdainful as the professional Joanna Crane.
Overall the tone is gritty, sordid and pathetic, like a broken-down burlesque queen at her last tango. But the story is remarkably close to "Klute's." A prostitute is stalked by a psychotic pervert, but is protected by a private eye who loves her.
Anthony Perkins is appropriately bonkers as the psycho, an insane, profane minister with a bag of dildoes. John Laughlin is marvelous as part-time detective Bobby Grady, a middleclass man who reevaluates his marriage after his slapstick sexual encounter with Blue.
Grady is the real focus of this thriller, says writer-director Barry Sandler, who naturally takes a masculine, somewhat sexist view. But men have tried. They've been sensitive, only to be labeled wimps. Now here's a sensitive man who struggles with women and fails without being either abusive or weak. He tries to satisfy his distant wife (Annie Potts), but she hides her frustrations. And we see a couple's life dissolve in a strained conversation about their orgasms. It is a moving scene, as painful as any of the violent ones between Blue and her madman.
Ken Russell, who directed "Altered States" and "Women In Love" along with some real dogs, is no stranger to the sexual battleground. Here he moves confidently between surburban and urban tragedies, contrasting barbecue with bump-and-grind. Then he ties them all up with a terrifying flourish, and without the excess to which he is prone.
There are apt to be comparisons between "Crimes" and Brian De Palma's "Body Double," since both occur in savage sexual landscapes at about the same time. But that's where it ends. "Crimes" is a mature, suspenseful film, not masturbatory child's play. It has a lot to say. But please remember that most of it is said in four-letter words. CRIMES OF PASSION -- At area theaters.