Imagine you had a less than perfect sex life (go on, try)… in fact imagine you were living a life that felt completely devoid of passion. Now imagine you had some concerned friends who wanted to find a way to help - and did so by setting you up with a totally gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, young… hooker.
What feelings might it provoke in you? Fear, horror, excitement, anxiety, shame, desire… would it give you a buzz – and would you go through with it? It’s an extraordinary and intriguing question.. and it’s the central time in A Perfect Ending. Has that peaked your interest….? It certainly did mine.
Rebecca is a middle aged, wealthy, but utterly repressed and depressed housewife (played by actress Barbara Niven), who is dedicated to her coldly bombastic husband (the excellent John Heard) and her three now grown children. And she has a secret. Or maybe more than one. During a frank discussion with two close friends (Shirin, played by the wonderful Mary Jane Wells and Kelly, Imelda Corcoran), she reveals something that they are horrified to hear about her sex life – and they are determined to help her resolve. They perceive that Rebecca’s dilemma may be as a result of her straight and straightened relationship with her husband, so they decide to engage the personal services of a high class prostitute, reasoning that another female will be “so much more familiar with the manual” and be able to offer her some… release.. Filled with trepidation but at the same time compelled, Rebecca agrees and turns up at the appointed time in a luxury hotel room to meet her… date. And so we are introduced to the delectable and sultry Paris (played superbly by British actress and model Jessica Clark in her first feature) who knocks on the door at the appointed time to meet her new customer. But though Paris would seem to have the looks and charm to melt even the frostiest of “clients”, she hasn’t reckoned with the more than just tight lipped, Rebecca.
As the two dance around each other, their stories are revealed, told with humour and pathos, with honesty and compassion, A Perfect Ending is multi-layered and addresses significant and pervasive issues that seriously affect the lives of millions of women - it manages to be both hugely entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. The leads have good chemistry and the sex scenes, which are intimately revealing, require a level of brave vulnerability that most of us could never even consider, but which are an essential element in showcasing the beauty of imperfection, the poignant antithesis of the movie’s title. Aside from the magnificently elegant performances of Niven and Clark, there are also some superb cameo roles, particularly from Morgan Fairchild as the tough and edgily funny Madam - with a peculiar obsession with Barbie dolls that she dresses up to resemble the characters of her “girls” – and the older, hardened hooker played with sarcastic brilliance by Rebecca Staab who can’t resist biting back when Rebecca rejects her with a judgementally driven tongue lashing.
It’s a story of many twists and turns that will surprise you as the plot unfolds – and it so cleverly explores, both metaphorically and in starkly frank big screen physical presence, the issues that so unnecessarily blight our lives and
often prevent us from fulfilling our potential and finding the pleasure that all of us deserve. I was privileged to watch the world premier of this movie at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco along with an audience of over 1400 whose appreciation was loudly and enthusiastically expressed throughout the film. If their – and my – reaction is anything to go by, it will make you laugh out loud, it might make you weep – and it will almost certainly make you think about it well after the movie itself has perfectly ended.