For Reel

Exposed (1983)
June 18, 2012, 7:58 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Toback

Although it was poorly received at the time of its release, James Toback’s Exposed has found defenders in the modern critical community, who have embraced Toback’s flamboyant, unapologetic vision as a director. His view of Manhattan, for instance, is a preposterous nightmare, with the street’s few residents providing dependable harassment around every corner. The consistency of the gracelessness amounts to a transcendent surrealism over time – in one inconsequential scene, for instance, Nastassja Kinski falls as she gets out of her cab, gaining a temporary limp that serves no narrative purpose. Playing Kinski’s on-screen lover is Rudolf Nureyev, in what was a failed stunt casting that provides a number of unintentional laughs. A sex symbol at the time (particularly for gay men), Nureyev is strangely void of the eroticism needed to match the sexually frustrated Kinski, who dances alone in her apartment before erotically writhing on the floor. His stalking of her is more frightening than alluring, with his dead eyes projecting more menace than sexuality. Toback himself has an equally preposterous but entertaining turn as the University professor that Kinski is having an affair with – his enthusiasm delivering stock-intellectual lines sets the tone for a film that is very much defined by its extremes. While the supposed critical importance of the film is not entirely convincing (beyond Toback’s rare use of a female protagonist in his filmography), it has an undeniable attraction. It is pure trash, albeit trash guided by the hand of a serious thinker.

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