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.