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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Center of the World (review)

Richard (Peter Sarsgaard: Boys Don’t Cry) is a dorky dot-com millionaire whose days are filled with Doom, day trading, and checking out online dorm cams. Florence (Molly Parker: Sunshine) is a drummer for a rock band by day, a stripper by night. He’s a prototypical geek, all money and no personality, who thinks he can buy female company and affection, and she thinks she can sell it without consequence. For $10,000, she’ll spend a weekend with him in Las Vegas, but “no talk about feelings, no kissing on the mouth, no penetration.” Unfortunately, he’s so unsocialized that the slightest bit of attention from an actual flesh-and-blood woman is a revelation — one orgasm, and he’s madly in love. Director Wayne Wang shot this sad, voyeuristic tale on digital video, so there’s an urgent immediacy to the long, awkward silences between these two people, who have nothing to say to each other and probably wouldn’t be able to express it if they did, and to their sexual encounters, which are, like most movie sex, tedious and unerotic. That’s the point, I suppose: this is a cautionary tale about mistaking sex for love and underestimating the toll emotionless sex can take — the sex is intentionally boring. But damn, I don’t go to the movies to be intentionally bored, and it’s hard to develop any kind sympathy for characters who aren’t even emotionally involved with themselves, never mind each other. So I should care about Richard and Florence why?

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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