Matt Forney
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Vivid: Smut for SWPLs

vividAttention horny hacks! Want to film two people having sex without being dismissed as a B-movie schlockmeister? Simple: call your little porn flick “art” and watch the critics fall all over themselves to praise your genius. Requiem for a Dream, “Piss Christ,” Passage; there is no limit to what garbage you can pass off so long as the general public thinks you’re making some deep statement about human nature.

If you doubt me, check out Vivid (aka Luscious), the “highly regarded but sexually charged Canadian art film,” so highly regarded that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. The movie is at best on the level of a film school project, or at least it would be were it not for all the shots of Kari Wührer and Stephen Shellen rolling around naked. In terms of artistic merit, it’s sandwiched between The Devil in Miss Jones and the Hysterical Fiction video series.

In other words, if you’re looking to jack off without feeling too guilty, you should check it out.

The setup is simple enough: Shellen plays Cole, a manic-depressive painter suffering a drought of inspiration, and Wührer is his girlfriend Billie suffering his various psychotic outbursts. He also won’t have sex with her, which is immediately where the movie loses me, because any man who would refuse to fuck Kari Wührer circa 1997 is a repressed homosexual.

kari-wuhrer-vivid

Cole cajoles Billie into posing nude for him, which causes him to Hulk out, smashing his canvas to bits and tearing his shirt off. She defiantly pledges to “never [pose] for [him] again,” leaves to go to work and comes home later to find him curled up in the fetal position on the floor. Their relationship is about as believable as that of a porn chick who offers to pay the pizza boy in blowjobs, and the clunky dialogue doesn’t help. Every line in Vivid seems like it was written by a teenage fat girl who gets all her information about sex from Charlotte Brontë novels, though I did chuckle when Billie huffily announces that she’s going to jill off in the shower: “Like I’m gonna let you watch.”

And this is only the first fifteen minutes! We’ve got another hour of this swill left!

The next day is when the stupid shit hits the fan. Cole discovers that Billie has thrown away a cupcake that his mother gave him—a cupcake that was weeks old and covered in mold—and nearly starts crying. At this point, I was hoping Billie would crack him over the head with a chair and run off to get fucked by the mailman, but instead she apologizes and offers to make it up to him by posing nude again. After Cole—shock, horror, surprise—nearly has another psychotic breakdown, Billie cleverly impugns his masculinity by telling him he “can’t even get [his] brush up” (I see what you did there, movie), which provokes him to angrily throw paint on her and fuck her atop one of his canvasses.

A new form of art is born!

This is where Vivid loses what little narrative coherency it had and devolves into a series of repetitive sex scenes, interspaced with some of the most tedious improvised dialogue outside of a mumblecore flick. For the first act of the film, we were at least left wondering whether Cole would come out of the closet, or whether Billie would get fed up and stab him in the chest with a kitchen knife. Gone, completely gone. With both his artistic muse and libido back, Cole becomes the toast of the art world, free to gaze into the camera with his tortured artist eyes or engage in horrific pillow talk. We learn that Billie’s pussy tastes like raspberries, watch them playfully tease each other about how they sound when they cum, and get drawn-out descriptions of Cole’s horrible, horrible nightmares.

And it’s all set to an overly-loud soundtrack of whatever generic nineties alt-rock that the filmmakers could afford to license.

The plot finally returns about an hour in, when Billie leaves for New York on a modeling assignment. While she’s gone, Susan, one of Cole’s clients and friends, visits and convinces him to let her join in on the paint fornication fun. As you would expect, Billie comes home a little too early and is shocked to find a naked blonde diddling herself with a foot-long zucchini on her living room floor. Cole, being his usual whiny sociopath self, doesn’t understand why she’s upset. At this point, Billie finally decides to leave the little creep, but he manages to cajole her into not only staying, but letting him fuck her in the butt.

Though given that her sole objection is that “[her] ass just isn’t designed for that,” it really isn’t that big of an accomplishment.

Cole and Billie’s anal adventures end about ten seconds later when she starts shrieking on the first thrust, and they inexplicably decide to abandon their fucking on canvass experiment and go back to regular painting and modeling. Cole’s painter block returns, they have another yelling match, and I started rooting for them to kill each other and get it over with. “Do it Billie! Shoot him in the heart! Bake him some poison cupcakes! Lorena Bobbitt his psycho ass!”

But nope, the closest she gets to murdering this asshole is slapping him across the face, then grabbing the paintbrush and stabbing his canvass in rage.

This magically resolves everything. Cole decides to start painting Billie in various poses: while she’s sleeping, lying on the couch or painting her own masterpiece. Awwwwww.

Vivid is extraordinarily stupid and lazy, softcore for the pretentious. It isn’t even entertaining in a so-bad-it’s-good way, because that would require effort from the filmmakers. Hell, I almost want to give the movie points for its near-parodic depiction of modern art fans being gullible idiots, snapping up the Pollack-esque paint smears that Cole and Billie call “paintings.” But it’s not even smart enough to do that.

If you’re the kind of conceited jerk who listens to This American Life and thinks that mainstream porn is too “misogynistic,” you’ll like Vivid because it will let you get your rocks off while still thinking you’re better than the plebs. If you’re a devout Mormon stuck in a cycle of buying Penthouse mags, whacking off and burning them to keep your wife from finding out, you’ll like Vivid because it’s arty enough to keep those feelings of shame away.

Everyone else?

Skip it, unless you think full-frontal nudity from Kari Wührer is worth an hour-and-a-half of terrible dialogue.

Click here to buy Vivid.

Read Next: Gangster Squad and Leftist Solipsism

  • RICanuck

    So, Matt, you describe the movie as “at best on the level of a film school project”.

    You have a higher opinion of pretentious, government subsidized Canadian artists than I do. A movie produced in English, in Canada is almost always guaranteed to be crap. If you can think of one that isn’t, let me know.

  • You have a higher opinion of pretentious, government subsidized Canadian artists than I do.

    It has Kari Wührer naked. That gives it a bump.

  • By far my favorite “art” film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Serbian_Film

  • I have to applaud your ability to sit through something like that. I only finished reading it out of my respect for your other material. In other words, when even a decent manosphere blogger tries to summarize something like that, it still doesn’t help.

    I try to imagine having the kind of mind that would see a film like that and praise it as art, but I can’t.

  • earl

    Even in badly produced porn stories there is a lesson

    If you want a mental block, screw with women.

    If you want to remove a mental block, get into a fight.

  • fokkertism

    What about “Scanners” (1980) and its sequels? Those were great films.

  • Derfel the Mighty

    You seriously put requim for a dream on the same level as this crap and piss Christ? I like your site and agree with a lot of what u say. Also, I understand its just an opinion, but requiem is one of aronifski (spell?) great films, like pi. I get that u have no respect for drug addicts, but coming from a broken family and a heroin/coke addict fisherman father, I see that requium isn’t just drug porn; its a film about addiction, obsession and self destruction that neatly describes our current state of affairs. I’m surprised u consider it to be the film equivalent of piss Christ. Anyway, keep up the great work brother, ur blog is a good place for hard truths