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August 2002                                                  SITE MAP   SEARCH
The Centre Of The World
cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Molly Parker, and Carla Gugino

director: Wayne Wang

86 minutes (18) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental
Also available to rent on video

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Ellen Cheshire
The Centre Of The World is interesting in the way that Big Brother is interesting... Here, two people who barely know each other check into a plush Las Vegas hotel for the weekend. Richard (Peter Sarsgaard), a multi-million computer nerd, has paid Florence (Molly Parker), a drummer and part-time stripper, $10,000 to spend the weekend with him. Her list of rules are strict (no kissing on the mouth and no penetration, to name but two) and initially Richard is happy to go along with it - enjoying the one-to-one strip shows and the efficient 'hand jobs', but the balance of their relationship shifts as the weekend develops and they begin to get to know one another better.
   Wayne Wang has filmed this using a digital camera that allows for greater movement and yet the action rarely leaves the confined space of the hotel suite, making for a claustrophobic and uncomfortable film. Flashbacks are shot in black and white as we find out how they met (in a café) and what their life before the weekend was like: hers - very graphic strip shows with unusual use of fruit, his - wanking over Internet porn whilst becoming a millionaire on the stock market. The Centre Of The World is fragmented; it is a snapshot of their lives rather than a coherent narrative - yet it is not as experimental as, say, Mike Figgis' recent digital film Hotel. Here, at least there is a script, and although their dialogue is not sizzling it shows us that these are two dull people trapped together and over time their levels of disclosure increase until they are sharing the most intimate of details.
   This is a raw film, and with Wang's use of natural light it seems more like a fly-on-the-wall documentary than a narrative film. And, like life, there is no resolution to the film, or if there is, it is that nothing changes: when the three days are over she goes back to drumming and stripping, and he returns to his Internet porn and $20 million deal. Despite Wang's track record, this film is in no way a great one, and I cannot really recommend anyone shelling out money to see - best to stay home and watch the Big Brother housemates boring each other with their inane prattle.