by Levin Kelly over at Cinematical
Writer director Sebastian Gutierrez premiered his film Women in Trouble at SXSW last year, and now he’s back with Elektra Luxx, which picks up one month after that film ended. Thankfully, you don’t have to have seen Women in Trouble to appreciate Elektra Luxx, although it sure helps. Especially because it’s a fantastic movie with an off-the-wall sensibility and great performances, and will eventually be the first installment of a trilogy. Here, we’ll help you out with a crash course (which doesn’t let you off the hook, go find this movie).
Brief summary: Porn star Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino) finds out she’s pregnant, by her sometime rock star boyfriend Nick Chapel (Josh Brolin) who has just died while having sex with flight attendant Cora (Marley Shelton) on an airplane. Meanwhile, porn up and comer Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki) is struggling with a crush on her best friend Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and from time to time we see sex blogger Burt Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) comment via video on Elektra Luxx and her legendary career.
That’s just to get you up to speed, and there’s a lot more in the movie. So go seek it out on DVD or Blu-ray. For you lucky ones who have seen Women in Trouble, or if you just want to hear about the fantastic Elektra Luxx, beyond the break you can delve into a lot more.
As Elektra Luxx opens, Elektra has retired from the porn scene as is teaching a “How To Act Like a Porn Star in Bed” continuing education class at a nearby community center. After class, Cora (whom she hasn’t met) stops by and begs her to have a drink with her and when she does, Elektra finds out how Nick died, and that Cora stole a file full of songs he’d been writing, all of which are about Elektra. She gives them to Elektra, with the caveat that she help entrap her husband into adultery, whom she feels bad about cheating on.
Cora passes out at the bar, and Elektra takes her home. As she’s leaving, she passes a man (Timothy Olyphant) who enters Cora’s apartment, and against her better judgment Elektra decides to seduce him to play along with Cora’s plot. The trouble is, it isn’t Cora’s husband. It turns out that he’s an investigator who was hired by the band to find Nick Chapel’s missing songs. Whoops. He agrees to let Elektra take her favorite song, if she’ll have coffee with him. Which is a step backwards since she just had sex with him.
That’s just how things begin, and I’d be doing the film a disservice if I unraveled the rest of the plot. Like a Tarantino movie, there are multiple subplots, some of which involve Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell from Mad Men), and Julianne Moore. Burt Rodriguez has a much expanded role which becomes pivotal towards the end of this film and involves a briefly seen Malin Akerman. They’re all intricately tied together, and I don’t want to upset them for you like a house of cards.
However, I will say that I could watch Adrianne Palicki’s lovable blonde airhead in a dozen more films. She’s not stupid, per se, but she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed either. But she’s so charmingly disarming that you can’t help but love her, both in the platonic “I want to be your best friend” sense, and in the “Wow, she’s incredibly attractive” uses of the word. She does this in Women in Trouble as well, if Sebastian, if you’re reading, you have my vote on a Holly Rocket spinoff.
But as photogenic as Palicki is, Gugino turns the amps up to 11. “Elektra Luxx Super Deluxe” is the title of of Nick Chapel’s songs, which is about the closest to perfect phrase that describes Carla Gugino in this movie. She looks like she was genetically engineered for hotness, and while girls like Palicki and Chriqui are certainly gorgeous, Carla whips past them like they’re standing still on the shoulder of the highway of erotic appeal. Seriously. She also plays her own twin sister in a scene that is surprisingly dramatic, she goes over the top of even her own role as Elektra Luxx.
The film ends on a cliffhanger, and Gutierrez promises to wrap everything up in the third and final installment, which he has yet to start filming. Both Women in Trouble and Elektra Luxx are extremely fun films that border on indie, without sacrificing any quality. Despite the prevalent eye candy in both movies, they focus on the storytelling, which is top notch. Keep Elektra Luxx and Guitierrez on your radar.