(3/11/11; Comedy, Drama)
Carla Gugino, Timothy Olyphant, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Malin Åkerman, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marley Shelton, Kathleen Quinlan
SCR/DIR: Sebastian Gutierrez
MPAA: R for strong sexual content, nudity and language.
1 hour 37 mins
Sequel to Women in Trouble (2009) follows the exploits of the titular former porn star (Gugino), now pregnant and teaching sex classes at a community center. More streamlined than the first movie but still a series of one-on-one exchanges, Gutierrez’s witty ensemble is equal parts satire and melodrama. Elektra is questioning what kind of life she has led and what kind of mother she will become.
But she also has to contend with Cora (Shelton), the flight attendant, who was having a fling with Elektra’s rock star boyfriend when he died (in Part 1), and a crazy scheme to alleviate Cora’s guilt; we also follow Holly (Palicki) and Bambi (Chriqui) on a Mexican that turns into a “working vacation.” Olyphant shows up as an opportunistic private detective and Quinlan as a mysterious figure who could possibly change Elektra’s life forever.
There is no escaping the sense that Gutierrez had very little in the way of an actual budget, but that hasn’t stopped him from creating a series of films with strong themes and extremely clever dialogue. There are cheap gags and occasional flat line readings but Gugino’s commitment to Elektra is the glue that holds it together.
It’s a credit to Gutierrez’s handling of the shifting tones that he’s able to include a scene between Elektra and the Virgin Mary (played straight by Julianne Moore) that actually works. Bert Rodriguez (Gordon-Levitt), introduced so memorably in Women’s post-credit sequence, is a full-fledged participant here.
This ain’t for everyone, but if you’re in the mood, do yourself a favor and start with Women in Trouble. There are numerous references here to the first film, scenes that play out from other perspectives and a post-credit sequence that links them.
To be followed by a third movie, Women in Ecstasy. (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
— DENNIS WILLIS