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Death Defying Acts

 

Love, infidelity, jealousy and regret permeate "Death Defying Acts"... tales by 19th-century French author Guy de Maupassant. Quartet of stories... is nicely interlaced... Cable outlets should find this ensemble tempting.

 

Georgina loves wearing cheap costume jewelry and has a nasty cough. Elderly Paul is still kicking himself for not marrying Ursula after WWII. Feeling neglected, Zach's wife makes him pay -- quite literally - for his infidelities. And a married woman enlists help when the handsome fellow she's been cheating with drops dead in her bed. Perfs range from adequate to convincing, with Jonathan McWade as Zach a cut above. Developing his penchant for culture-plus-prurience, helmer will shoot his next feature, per production notes, on location "in several prestigious insane asylums in New England."

 

- LISA NESSELSON

 

FILM THREAT

Death Defying Acts

***1/2

 

Starring Debbie Rochon, Robert Nicotra, Antonia Goddess, Christopher Mako, Christine Fuchs, Shana Sosin, Jonathan McQuade Written and Directed by Edward G. Norris

 

Dramas are a tough sell these days. Modern audiences like their glitz and car wrecks… at least, that’s what Hollywood keeps telling us, with their “to hell with the story” philosophy. When a drama does come along, it’s invariably of the schmaltzy Oscar-nod variety, so manipulative that all the film lacks is a little flashing “emotion-prompt” (“feel sad in four seconds…three…two…”).

 

On the independent level, dramas only seem to exist as Sundance calling cards, rarely seen outside of the festival circuit. That’s because, as distributors will tell you, “dramas won’t sell… particularly dramas without stars.” So when dramas are made, they are usually made out of love and affection and deep belief in the source material. These are stories the filmmakers desperately want to tell, regardless of the salability. “Death Defying Acts” feels like one of these examples.

 

Narrated in a black and white wrap-around by indie superstar Debbie Rochon, “Death Defying Acts” collects four short stories by Guy de Maupassant. Writer/director Norris intercut the quartet of narratives all dealing with infidelity—the husband who discovers his late wife had led a double-life; the cheating husband who can’t bear the thought of his own wife’s affair; an old man who dreams of the married woman who got away; and the comedic antics of a woman who enlists her friends in helping her hide her dead paramour from her husband—and the consequences (or, at least, results) of the affairs.

 

- MIKE WATT

 

 

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