I didn't write about this film "from writer-director Jada Pinkett-Smith" on my movie review site "Soul Sis-Star Reviews" as I don't really consider it Black Cinema, but wanted to comment on it because of it's director, Mrs. Will Smith.
Full disclosure: I am not the biggest fan of Jada--I am not even what you would consider a small one, but I tried to stay as unbiased and objective as possible while viewing this.
I am, however, a huge and devoted fan of those who do many things in their lifetime, and do it with confidence, swagger, and success. Transistions that a normal person would like to do even one of in their lifetime. People like Paul Newman for example, who was an actor, a race car driver, and a philanthropist. Fred Williamson who was a football star, TV star on Diahann Carroll's 60's TV show Julia, then went on to produce his own movies, making him arguably the biggest Black action star ever.
Then we have Mrs. Smith, though trying out everything in her heart's desire; book author, relationship expert, TV star, rocker, producer, philanthropist, and now director, seems to be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Well, except how to marry very, very, well.
That's not exactly fair, I guess. I have a begrudging respect that she actually does it, tho the results are usually not impressive to me. There is something about her that I find very disingenuous, and with this film I found myself bouncing back and forth from the begrudging respect back to my thoughts of pretension.
The respect comes from the fact that she wrote a film that isn't entirely bad--a story of a bored and suppressed rich and well connected executive, who finds an interesting and much needed diversion with Spanish star Paz Vega.
The story is not complicated, seemingly aiming to be a sexy noir-ish film on par with "9 1/2 Weeks" or "Basic Instinct", where a mysterious and sexy stranger shakes up the life up a formerly repressed and conservative protagonist, bringing out a freak inside they never knew existed, thereby freeing all other emotional, spiritual repression, blah, blah, blah.
There are several issues which prevent this film from reaching the annals of the movies I just mentioned....first of all let me state that I promptly fell asleep 15 minutes in, despite the fact there was a sex scene and Idris Elba using his real Brit accent 10 minutes in. Not a good sign.
There is also the lead, probably the most unsexy dude ever in a supposedly erotic film, Jason Clarke. He is unlikeable in every way, not that handsome or hot, only showing emotion when he is angry, and when he is angry, then someone always gets beat down. Badly. What executive goes around doing things like that? (It is part of the supposed "big reveal"). The pacing is very uneven, mostly deadly slow, with no tension or anything compelling to keep you wondering what will happen next. In fact, the film doesn't really even have a point until about an hour into it--surely a factor that will lose many a viewer. Jada Pinkett plays the executive's sister. Ummm...why is he white and she's Black? Why is absolutely no explanation given about that? (at least not one that I heard).
Great attention is given to a rice dish that Vega feeds the exec; it pans over the plate slowly no less than three times, yet a scene where the exec saves a homeless man from near death is given exactly 15 seconds. Huh?
Anyhoo, Paz Vega turns out to be married, but she and her husband have "an understanding" and apparently he is solidly behind her while she's out juking whomever, male or female. Is this art imitating life, Jada? Or just titillating stuff that you do with the press so well?
Turns out the exec ends up having a problem with the husband situation, even though she'd been quite clear and honest all along from practically the beginning. And despite the fact that all she does is look extremely beautiful and is extremely kind and understanding to him, even though he is a self-centered, spoiled, whiney crybaby. Just a couple of the many holes in the story. He ends up learning about life and love through her, after it's just a bit too late.
What we have on our hands is not a 9 1/2 Weeks or a Basic Instinct, but something in the realm of their massively inferior sequels; "Wild Orchid" and "Basic Instinct 2", both also very unsexy "erotic" thrillers. But I must admit, even saying all of this, it is a pretty film to look at, and Jada has potential if she could focus on one thing. Maybe just writing, or maybe just directing. And no Spike Lee-ing by inserting herself in the film. Just my opinion.