The Center of the World
One of the most interesting things about sex is it how it turns normally intelligent people into complete invalids. While this maxim can certainly be applied to the self-loathing Internet millionaire at the heart of Wayne Wang's drama The Center of the World, it may also pertain to Wang himself, who, under the guise of making a serious indie art film, never broaches a theme or idea as provocative as his film's teasingly explicit sex scenes. Peter Sarsgaard stars as Richard, a prematurely wealthy software programmer whose cure for isolation is ditching a pre-IPO meeting for a weekend in Vegas with a peculiar stripper (Molly Parker). Although Florence sets firm ground rules for their liaison such as no kissing on the mouth, no penetration, and $10,000 cash in advance their three days together are a tired cat-and-mouse game of affection, rejection, idealism and cynicism. If anything, Wang's lauded but dull film exposes the dreary futility of ponderously intellectualizing a sensation. Both Sarsgaard and Parker acquit their roles with considerable charisma, but did it really take four people (including novelist Paul Auster) to think up the super-thin story, and a fifth to write the screenplay? Spinning crude puns off Wang's suggestive name makes for a more fulfilling 90 minutes. Also with Carla Gugino. Artisan's package is attractive, with a good 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from digital video source and both 5.1 or 2.0 audio. Wang and post-production consultant Patrick Lindenmaier offer comments on selected scenes. Also included is a brief documentary about the film's website (which appears more ambitious and honest than the film) and two alternate endings. Trailer, keep-case.