The Centre of the World looks like being an interesting exploration of the role power and money play in sexual relations, and yet ends up being only a disappointing piece of titillation.
Computer whiz Sarsgaard meets girl-band drummer and part-time stripper Parker in a cafe, he finds her intriguing, and goes to see her perform, before offering her a chance of a lifetime – $10,000 for a weekend in Vegas. The ensuing play for interpersonal dominance between the two could have been extremely interesting, were it not for a trite ‘will she fall in love with him’ subplot, and some gratuitous and completely unneccessary distractions.
Sarsgaard plays the loser so well – I actually only hired this film on the strength of his Garden State performance – and he continues in style here. Albeit an extremely wealthy loser, he remains one nonetheless, and he is very difficult to like in this role. His computer geek with a heart of gold routine goes only so far… not his fault, but that of the writers and director who couldn’t think of any more interesting character faults for him to have. Whilst he does a pretty fair job, he is hamstrung by what is essentially a lousy script.
Parker, on the other hand, gets much the better of the material, and gives an excellent performance. We are always kept wondering what her real motivations are, and how far she would go to protect herself, and her investment. Not shying away from full frontal nudity, or many of the sex acts this script required of her, Parker shows courage in an otherwise drab affair.
The plot loses focus too many times – silly subplots including a ménage à trois and the above-mentioned will-she won’t-she distract from what could have been a subtle drama. Much of the film hangs on these two performers in a hotel room, and the claustrophobia could have resulted in much more intrigue than was unfortunately the case.
This film also spends too much time on close-up shots of nipples to be taken seriously as an adult drama. The ‘insertion’ of one particular shot stunned me somewhat, having never seen its like in a mainstream film before, but was it necessary? Do the nipples add to the tension between the two characters?
Whilst The Centre of the World had a lot of potential, and in spite of a very good performance by Parker and a moderate one from Sarsgaard, it fails to live up to its promise.Rating: