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Mercy: Expanded International Version

Mercy is for Peta Wilson enthusiasts only, especially those who want to see her in a role different from her Femme Nikita persona. The film is a somewhat odd first choice for a post-Femme-fame project, but then it's written and directed by Wilson's boyfriend Damian Harris, scion of actor Richard. Mercy proves to be a typically TV-like, slow-paced erotic thriller. It stars Ellen Barkin, the first Gina Gershon, as a police detective investigating a series of bizarre serial murders. Wilson is the friend of one of the victims, and she knows a lot more about said victim's private life than she is at first willing to admit. Both Wilson and her dead friend, it turns out, were participants in a weird, and unlikely, amalgam of the lesbian and S&M underground — beautiful super-model-like man-hating lesbians (dressed, as the end-credits reveal, in Dior, Balenciaga, Halston, Westwood, Mizrahi, and with a dominatrix tossed in wearing Thierry Mugler) apparently gather at exclusive bars (not unlike the one that Barkin previous attended in Blake Edwards's Switch). When they are bored they attend various dungeons for the pain of it all. The psychology of Mercy is rather limp and skewed. Barkin learns that all the women in this ad hoc league of beautiful women were sexually abused by their fathers, and so they have turned to other women instead of men, but the S&M practices are a form of penance for the sin of being victimized (yet the pain is administered by those other women). If the crime side of this movie is like 8mm in its seeming ignorance of the worlds it explores so exploitatively, the police procedural side of the story is fairly lame and poorly worked out, with the inevitable jurisdiction disputes and the scene where Barkin and partner go to interview a suspect only to have one run from the house with gun battle to ensue (and when the cop is a woman, her male partner must always be shot). Prime Suspect this is not, nor is it Silence of the Lambs nor Profiler, though the film makes allusions to them. Columbia TriStar's DVD edition features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), and pan-and-scan on the flip-side (which suggests that at one point the filmmakers thought that this film was more than just an HBO erotic thriller). Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Original trailer, and the trailer for De Palma's Body Double is also thrown in (though, given the plot of Mercy, it should have been Dressed to Kill). Keep case.
—D.K. Holm

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