As we’ve seen time and time again, one of the major story types of softcore films are murder mysteries. These plots help gives softcore some pulp street cred (erotica is a long-standing pulp tradition) as well as adding danger elements to help make the films more exciting. Many of the films are essentially episodes of detective shows, modified for the personality of the lead and given sequences that would make NYPD Blue blush. Mainline Releasing/ MRG Entertainment has a slew of them, so Secret Lives will become an example case.
Secret Lives goes along at a leisurely pace, a type of realistic storytelling that shows us characters walking the whole way through buildings, having long conversations and monologues, and seems more of a play expanded to film and then stuffed with padding to justify the sets and stock footage. But weirdly enough, that sort of makes it feel more real, that these characters who are part of this fantasy sex world have to deal with some of the same problems that everyone faces. And our heroes are no angels, they endanger their case and their jobs and even their lives, saved by the fact the killer seems to have left her mind far behind
Also there’s lots of wang in this movie. Which is good for softcore, even if it’s not my thing, because there are couples that watch these film, even if it isn’t the target audience. And it’s cool to toss the ladies or gay men a few “bones” now an then, even if it is only soft bones. People who have a problem with that probably have their own
We’re led to believe that Kenzie is the main character from the beginning, but we actually follow Detective Mick Ferguson around for most of the film. The “secret lives” hinted by the title only makes sense if you view the relationship of the main characters – which they try to keep hidden to protect their career and cases – as a sort of secret life. But it’s not really that secret, and by the end they just realize hiding things will just leave to problems. The big flaw is there is no real resolution. Kenzie and Mick commit to staying together, but even though we know who the murderer is, things are left to offscreen characters to find the evidence and save the day.
Secret Lives features stylized flashbacks, including several long sex sequences. An effort is made to keep the viewer from being confused while still running through the checklist of things required for softcore cinema. The pacing is something that may put people off, but it lends Secret Lives a bit of distinction in my eyes. Secret Lives throws some expected ideas out the window while still delivering other common tropes, a creative mix that is welcome in an environment that can grow stagnant.
Kenzie wakes up from her one night stand with cop Detective Ferguson. Which is sort of bad because she’s the brand new Assistant District Attorney! Holy Grey’s Anatomy, Batman! But he’s good to go in the morning so together they scrub clean in the shower.
Kenzie can’t be late for her first day at her new job, so she gives him coffee—to go! But he snags a date that night before they part.
Murder is the case and the case was Ashley. Ashley was a model, and her room is filled with pills and champagne. She lives in a model dorm, though we only ever see one other inhabitant, Diana Marks. Diana’s face is full of tears and she’s being interviewed by Lady Cop. Ferguson walks around the room, looking at the helpfully numbered clues and getting flashbacks that play back the last important evens in the victim’s life. As one of those events was some lovin’, we got a sex scene flashback where we don’t see the face of the mystery man.
Ferguson interviews Diana, whose alibi is going to her boyfriend’s place after getting into yet another fight with Ashley. Ferguson checks this story out, finding photographer Dean Foss more interested in his photo shoot involving mannequin parts than answering questions, though he does collaborate her story complete with a very long sex scene. He also punctuates that Diana Marks demands attention. Diana even directly says “Pay attention to me!”
Ferguson and Kenzie have a living room picnic where they discuss the case even though they shouldn’t, including the toxicology report showing rat poison in the wine killed Ashley. Kenzie reveals she used to be a model and lived in the very same model house…and Diana Marks was living in the place way back then! Dun dun DUN!
Then they bone.
After that, Detective Ferguson just leaves! Because he’s mad they didn’t go out and that she seems ashamed of him.
Kenzie then visits Diana to catch up on old times, and also secretly grill her for information. Diana mentions her dead roomie Ashley had a fight with her boyfriend Jason and was crazy jealous. Queue flashback of Ashley and boyfriend arguing, because we’re showing, not telling. This scene is less than convincing, and that’s about as nice as I can put it. Then the couple gets it on as Diana watches open-mouthed from the doorway. This scene is more convincing, and that’s probably not as nice as I can put it, but it keeps the joke.
After the entire sex scene, including a multiple sequences where Ashley is facing the door, she finally notices Diana and yells at her.
Detective Ferguson talks to Ashley’s boyfriend Jason. Jason expands more of Ashley arguing with Diana after she catches her, and then Ashley and Jason fighting, including tossing a picture frame at the wall after he leaves.
Mick Ferguson and Kenzie argue over the case, especially after he finds out she talked with Diana.
Mick goes to talk with Diana again, which is pretty much Diana just putting the moves on him so hard he’s torn to pieces. Or he just has sex with her.
Way to be professional, dude!
Right after, Ferguson fins a big box of rat poison in the kitchen! No one thought at all to search the house the murdered girl was murdered in to look for rat poison, the thing that murdered her? He calls in an evidence team to search the place and leaves the house, because otherwise he’d get in trouble for improper relations with a suspect.
Ferguson goes to confess to Kenzie and apologizes. He also knows Diana killed Ashley and he can’t tell the evidence team about the big piece of evidence because of what he did.
Ferguson and Kenzie two kiss and make up and make sweet sweet love. I guess Diana will go to jail, but the film just ends so we never really see at resolution. Maybe the trial is still ongoing, with more and more shocking revelations! But probably not, this seems pretty straight-forward and Diana will crack instantly under interrogation. But the police should also arrest her boyfriend for terrible crimes against art!
Rated 7/10 (MRE, pills, Blue’s Clues, tossed photo, portfolio, patriotic guitar, Jim Morrison – the airbrush years!)
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