The 2014 erotic drama "The Key" can be considered the thinking man's (and woman's) "50 Shades of Grey" in that the narrative exclusively in the form of journal entries of an unhappily married present-day Los Angeles couple is based on the 1955 novel of the same name by Japanese Nobel Prize Laureate Junichiro Tanizaki. The film is notable as well for evoking thoughts of the similarly themed classic film "The Pillow Book," which is recently out on Blu-ray, that chronicles the sexual development of a highly independent Asian woman.
"Key" is enjoying a wider theatrical release following a September 2015 premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival.
The pedigree of "Key" producer/director/writer Jefery Levy includes the Heath Ledger television series "Roar," and the films "Ghoulies," "Drive," and "SFW."
The following YouTube clip of the "Key" trailer provides exceptional spoiler-free exposition regarding the plot while awesomely showing the artistic cinematography.
Indie film veteran David Arquette stars as photographer Jack, who is married to the initially frigid Ida. He begins writing traditional journal entries about the then-unsatisfactory state of their love life out of a hope that Ida will read said prose and respond (pun intended) accordingly. One early development is that Jack (seemingly belatedly) realizes that drunk chicks are easy.
For her part, Ida begins expressing her thoughts in a laptop-based journal. These entries offer her perspective regarding the events about which Jack also writes. The gist of said thoughts is that Jack is a clueless oaf. The Asian actress who plays Ida in this highly sensual movie being named Bai Ling simply is a hilarious coincidence.
Adding hunky friend/colleague Kim into the mix stirs up the pot in numerous ways. His interaction with both Ida and the couple's daughter Mia particularly turns this production into a NC-17 Woody Allen film without the awkwardness and wonderfully wry humor. This is especially true regarding everyone being surprisingly sophisticated about the whole matter.
Levy artfully uses stills and slow-motion photography as apt visuals for the journal entries. The tasteful nature of said images are sensual and erotic, rather than even remotely pornographic. The copious nudity is central to the story.
The nicest surprise regarding all this is that the roughly 90 minutes of Arquette and Ling reading never gets dull and actively wraps you up in their stories; this narrative is as compelling as the aforementioned images that illustrate it.
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