Gross Misconduct (1993)

Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This made-for-TV Australian effort starts off as a fairly smart examination of the moral and ethical dilemmas involved in adultery and intergenerational sex. Soon, though, it devolves into a typical deranged Lolita potboiler full of facile plot twists that wipe away any pretense of intelligence. Jimmy Smits' Justin Thorne, a professor of philosophy at a boarding school, treats his young students as morally autonomous adults and urges them to grapple with profound questions of desire. But when the misplaced affections of beautiful Jennifer Carter (Naomi Watts) lead him to abandon his boundaries and common sense, Thorne quickly becomes an undeservedly self-righteous victim of false accusations. As elements of the police procedural and the erotic thriller take over the screenplay, Gross Misconduct devolves into the worst kind of sensationalistic, jury-rigged tripe. Leftfield plot developments and a hackneyed, naughty back-story ultimately cancel out the goodwill generated by the careful setup. It's a credit to Smits as an actor that he manages to keep a straight face throughout. Sarah Chadwick also proves affecting as his character's wronged wife. Watts gives off hints of the smoldering sensuality that would eventually make her a star. But all of it's in service to a script that proves ultimately unworthy of such fine performances.