Today’s vault inductee has been chosen for the simplest of reasons; I love me some Carla Gugino. It’s been a minute since she’s appeared in a movie or on one of my television shows, and while I anxiously await her reappearance on Justified or New Girl, I turned to my Netflix queue and dug up one of her projects I’m long over due to watch.
Popular porn star Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino) is on set with co-star Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki) when a phone call from her doctor interrupts the shoot. Fearing the worst, she heads to the doctor while Holly meets up with her friend the escort, Bambi (Emannuelle Chriqui). Bambi’s asked Holly to help satisfy a client’s naughty sister fantasy, but the client’s own dirty deeds has them running scared when they run into, or rather, the psychiatrist Maxine (Sarah Clarke), runs into them. The three hide out at a lesbian bar where Maxine goes on a bender to wash away the images of her husband (Simon Baker) sleeping with her patient, Addy (Caitlin Keats). Meanwhile, a stunned Elektra finds herself trapped in an elevator with Addy’s sister, Doris (Connie Britton), unable to reach to her rock star boyfriend Nick (Josh Brolin) about her news.
Written, directed and produced by Sebastian Gutierrez, Women in Trouble is a slice-of-life film with the notable exception that some of the women’s lives are sliced from more exotic fruit than others. Set in Los Angeles over the course of a single day, Women in Trouble peers into the lives of an escort, a therapist and her patient, a bartender and her roommate, a former addict, a couple of porn stars, and an idiosyncratic teenager as they confront and cope with their, you guessed it, troubles. The most prominent aspect to this film is Gutierrez’s juxtaposition of the women’s risque, suggestive appearances as they expose their innermost fears and experiences.
Therein lies the rub with Women in Trouble…and I don’t mean that kind of rub! Obviously I chose to watch this in part to ogle the good-googly-moogly of Ms. Gugino and, as always in that regard, she doesn’t disappoint. Gugino, along with all of her costars dare to bare all but the naughty nude bits. It’s very nearly eye-candy overload for those who find these lovely actresses attractive. While their provocative, scantily clad bodies are pleasing to watch, it’s a total distraction to the emotional stories being told, and happening to, these characters.
That’s a real shame since Connie Britton, Emmannuelle Chriqui, Sarah Clark, Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki and Marley Shelton offer some solidly heartfelt performances. I almost wish Gugino had left on her nun’s frock for the whole movie so I could have focused more on her story. Then again, I get the sneaking suspicion that, were I able to completely invest in her plight, I’d be even less impressed with the film. This belief stems from moments like Maxine’s disorienting and confusing montage of patient confessions, Addy’s unseen accident, and the strange sequences featuring Gutierrez’s daughter Isabella as the eccentric Charlotte.
Not to detract from the ladies, but Josh Brolin gives a pretty fun turn as a British rocker. If you sit through the end credits, the funniest bit resides; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as porn enthusiast/blogger Bert Rodriguez, interviews Elektra and Holly.
The main thing I came away from Women in Trouble with, aside from some nice cleavage memories, is the end quote, “your entire life can change in five minutes.” Spoken as if to clear up any confusion its awkwardness may have caused, but the line helps drive home the universal truth. I’m glad I took the time to watch Women in Trouble, I intend to watch its sequel Elektra Luxx, but like these ladies, you must do your own soul searching to make the right decision for yourself.