Review: Zipper (Sundance 2015)
PLOT: A hotshot prosecutor (Patrick Wilson) preparing for a congressional run unwisely starts frequenting a high-end escort agency. With his life now under a microscope, hes shocked to discover that his next big case means investigating the very agency hes spent tens of thousands of dollars on over the last few months.
REVIEW: Imagine an episode of HOUSE OF CARDS minus the intrigue, gravitas and gone horribly awry and youve got something along the lines of ZIPPER. Clearly intended as a sophisticated adult thriller, with a premise thats been ripped from the headlines, ZIPPER could have been just that. After all, how many politicians get busted with their pants down (so to speak)?
With high production values, a top-notch cast, and none-other than Darren Aronofsky as a producer, ZIPPER had a lot going for it. It starts off relatively compelling, with the always personable Patrick Wilson playing a happily married wannabe politician who just barely resists the charms of a sexy intern (Dianna Agron) to return home to this possible even more beautiful wife, played by Lena Headey. Yet, almost immediately the film starts to go awry, with Wilsons character making one boneheaded move after another. Hes supposed to be this white-hot prosecutor with a killer intellect, but here he is, researching escort agencies on his (presumably) monitored work computer, all-the-while his wife seems clueless despite his new $5000-a-pop obsession. It just feels a little hard to swallow.
Wilsons character seem to have been modeled on Elliot Spitzer, and while this could have led to an interesting domestic saga with political overtones, instead ZIPPER turns into a really goofy thriller, as Wilson tries to cover up his indiscretions when the agency is investigated by his office. He becomes so reckless that thinking this guy ever managed to make it to where he is without self-destructing becomes ludicrous. He becomes so enamored with prostitutes that he literally cleans out his bank account to be with them, and even walks away from a car accident in order to make an appointment with a mythical prostitute who only sees select clients (we never get to see this great white buffalo of prostitutes).
The characterizations here are especially problematic. Everyone gets it pretty bad here, both the women and the men. Literally no one in the film is portrayed sympathetically. All the guys from Wilson on down to a cameoing Ray Winstone are essentially pandering Johns. The women get it even worse, with literally all the ladies in this being portrayed as prostitutes including Headey, who in a sophomoric twist, literally prostitutes herself for political gain.
Its a real shame as with Wilson and the always underrated Headey in the leads not to mention a juicy supporting part for Richard Dreyfuss - ZIPPER could have really been something. Writer/director Mora Stephens previous film, 2005s CONVENTIONEERS, was well-regarded, but its hard to see ZIPPER as anything other than a huge misfire. It exists in a weird middle-ground where its too tame to really be considered tawdry fun, but too trashy to be sophisticated. If it had leaned one way or another it might have worked. In the end, outside of one or two memorably steamy sex scenes, ZIPPER is a pretty bland affair. Youll find juicier stories on CNN.