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Love Object
cast: Desmond Harrington, Melissa Sagemiller, Rip Torn, Udo Kier, and Ellen Greene

writer and director: Robert Parigi

84 minutes (18) 2003 widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Mosaic DVD Region 2 rental and retail
Also available to rent or buy on video
[released 5 July]

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Mike Philbin
I always thought, 'Yeah, a film about Real Doll,' that'd sorta make sense in a twisted sorta way. You could show the type of person who would invest that much time and money into caring for their (very expensive) love purchase, the sort of man who would show her all the compassion and respect such a trinket deserved. Right?
   You already have the Real Doll website to glean all the information from. There you can see how your choices are laid out; eyes, hair, and skin colour, number of holes (I kid you not), pelvic gyration. You get what you pay for and in such wonderfully rendered soft latex, skeletally articulated detail any fool wouldn't but fall in love right there and then. Yes?
   Just like Kenneth (Desmond Harrington). He's a technical copyrighter. A manic compulsive. A loner. A filthy stinking pervert who, rather than get a girlfriend of his own, listens at the paper-thin wall inside his wardrobe to the philanderous activity of apartment manager Radley (Udo Kier). Kenneth's workmates introduce him to Nikki's Internet world of plastic porn-doll purchasing (a sorta Real Doll clone site). At $10,000 you can have anything you want.
   But the Nikki doll that arrives looks like shit - budgetary restrictions on the part of the producer maybe? The skin is pasty with little or no texture. The fingers are clumsy. The face is pathetic looking. The hair's a mess. Everything about it looks wrong, cheap - sordid.
   They should have even got one of those real Real Dolls. I am sure that Abyss Creations who make the actual Real Dolls would have been happy of the publicity. Or maybe they wouldn't. This film is a little weak on suspension of disbelief. It's also a little weak in the depiction of the sort of person who buys these 'sex aids'. Market research suggests that many 'couples' are getting hold of those hyper-expensive sex dolls to enhance the oldest gig in the book, the threesome, without the guilt of loving one or the other too much. After all, it's just healthy sexual activity where one part of the threesome is life-sized and moist and posable. And now Real Doll comes in a male model, with changeable penises.
   This film even fucks up on the fetishistic aspect of the opening of the crate. You know Real Dolls are delivered in a crate, right? Yeah, they come sat up, fully dressed, and strapped into this crate - like the perfect gift. You don't wanna just rip the bitch out of her flat-packed box and fuck her roughly on the bed before kicking her to the bedroom floor. That's a waste of $10,000 and terrible presentation on the part of the company.
   They eventually try to develop a romance angle between 'Bob' and doll. But they can't work out how to play it. Even the introduction of a real-life romance interest Lisa (Sagemiller) shows the lack of love from all members of the cast and crew. What should have been a heartfelt polemic of a man caught between a rock and a hard place, torn between his inability to date real people and his obsessive love for the doll, tries to play it like that Anthony Hopkins film Magic (about a bewitched ventriloquist's dummy) - and a bad attempt at emulation it is, too.
   It would have made a better film if they'd actually just let nature, and the power of Kenneth's imagination, take its course and allowed Kenneth to figurise his love for the doll onto the actual shape of the Lisa character, actually show the doll improving into the Lisa (real but unmoving) version. But no such luck.
   But what am I really saying? Do I advocate Real Doll? Am I a salesman for their kinky hi-tech wares? Who cares? The fact is this film is about a man who would rather pay for a plastic person than hump a professional hooker or woo a real woman. Personally, I would rather watch an HBO documentary about why people find Real Dolls so great for their sex life than this twisted and unfunny pile of crap. And what a waste of Udo Kier...
   The DVD version contains the bare minimum of content; movie in Dolby audio, scene selection and a trailer.
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