The Monkey's Mask

For anybody who wondered where Kelly McGillis has been for these last couple of years, The Monkey's Mask is not a reassuring sign. This is plain and simple a softcore cable film somehow translated to the big screen (like The Girl, another fairly recent film). There are few redeeming qualities. The only reason to watch this film is to see naked women getting it on. And for those who were wondering, McGillis (Morgan's Ferry, The Settlement) has been making smaller movies for well over a decade. And she still looks fantastic. The Monkey's Mask is directed by Samantha Lang (The Well, Audacious) and adapted by Anne Kennedy (Crush) from the novel by Dorothy Porter. Lang seemingly wanted to make a murder mystery with a lesbian protagonist, but forgot that murder mysteries require a plot.

Jill Fitzpatrick (Susie Porter, Bootmen, Amy) is investigating the murder of a Mickey Norris (Abbie Cornish), a young poetry student. Cornish wrote highly explicit feminist poetry dealing with her intense feelings of hatred towards men. Maybe it was cathartic. Cornish's poetry sharply contrasted with her meek and gentle image she projected to her parents. Her investigation leads her to Diana Maitland (McGillis), Cornish's professor. Although Maitland is willing to help, Fitzpatrick believes that she is withholding information. So what else is she to do but start a steamy affair with Maitland. The plot takes a huge backseat to extended scenes of McGillis and Porter lounging around nude. Every once in a while, Lang remembers that this is a movie and Fitzpatrick remembers she has a job, and the story moves haltingly forward. However, there is no dramatic tension and nobody cares about who the identity of the killer is, or about anyone else in The Monkey's Mask.

This is nearly a waste of a movie. Strand Releasing, a distribution company that specializes in releasing gay and lesbian themed films released The Monkey's Mask domestically. The quality of their films land all over the place, from very good (Show Me Love) to horrible (The Iron Ladies). The Monkey's Mask falls very close to the latter. It does nothing to contribute to the burgeoning gay/lesbian film subgenre. It only adds to the mastubatory fodder that seems to clutter mom and pop video stores. To make things even worse, there is little chemistry between McGillis and Porter. It wallows in stereotypes and cliches, and does not even have any good poetry.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, and for language.

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