The Center of the World (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 20, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Clark

Reportedly based on Wayne Wang's early start working in skin flicks, this seriously overheated but sometimes unexpectedly hilarious account of a fateful Las Vegas sexual relationship scores very few points for tact or emotional sense, but its sporadic lapses into soft-core cable territory give it an undeniable entertainment value. Under the circumstances, leads Molly Parker and the resourceful Peter Sarsgaard find interesting details in their thinly conceived subjects, but director Wang mistakes low-tech crudity for hard-earned daring, and the film fails to shed much light on its sexual themes. Like many movies centering on a sex-based relationship between two people, the film is never as titillating or inventive as it thinks, and eventually becomes more dull than anything. One segment (involving a goofy interlude with Carla Gugino) threatens to break the monotony of the proceedings, but the filmmakers never let it achieve the candid payoff viewers are expecting, and for all of its naughtiness, the film plays it alarmingly safe as a whole. A great idea for a feature (the sexual union of introverted individuals is always interesting), by the end World remains a great idea that never reached fruition.