Sony // 2008 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // April 1st, 2008
Love hurts. Lust kills.
When I was a kid, we didn't have cable, so I was intrigued by all the "sexy" late night movies that I saw in the television listing. The plots always seemed to involve somebody in a sexy profession (or sexy for their profession) getting blackmailed (often involving mistaken identity) and then resorting to violence to get out of the situation. A significant sub-genre involved a psychologist/psychiatrist who has a problem with a patient, giving the filmmakers an excuse to trot out some pop-psychology. Now that I'm older and can watch whatever I want, these films have lost their allure, and Impulse provides proof that they were never that interesting to begin with.
Impulse has all the generic characteristics I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The main character Clair (Willa Ford) is an advertising manager, which brings her into contact with the young and the sexy (in fact, the film opens on three naked, writhing women at a photo shoot). Her husband Jonathan (Angus Macfadyen, Titus) is an older psychologist who teaches and works in a hospital instead of making it rich in private practice. At Claire's suggestion, they adopt nicknames to spice up their sex life. She becomes Lucia, he Roberto. They develop a fantasy that when she is away on a shoot, he will appear at her hotel as the fictional Roberto to have passionate sex with her. While away on business in San Francisco, Claire encounters Roberto in the hotel bar, and they proceed to her room to get it on. She tells him that Roberto should also make an appearance in New York in a few weeks. When he does, she is overjoyed. However, the morning after her sexy evening in the Big Apple, she gets a call from her husband. But her husband should be in the bed next to her. She finds out instead that the man next to her is not her husband, but in fact a man named Simon. She forces him out of the hotel room, disgusted with herself for cheating on her husband. Simon, however, has not had enough of Claire, and he begins to stalk -- and blackmail -- her, with dire consequences. Eventually, she must fight back.
Yes, the entire movie is utterly preposterous. It's difficult to believe that two entirely unrelated individuals would be indistinguishable in the eyes of one of their wives. It would have been better if they'd pulled out the old "long lost twin" explanation. The icing on the cake is the psychological interludes that do nothing to explain Simon's condition, or anything else in the movie, but instead give it a veneer of respectability.
The film tries desperately to be sexy, from the opening writhing to the cat-and-mouse sexual escapes that Claire and Roberto engage in. There's some nudity here and there, but the film doesn't generate a lot of steam. Once we learn that Roberto isn't Jonathan, the sexy atmosphere disappears, and the film becomes a below-average thriller. But really, we've seen this all before. Of course the police get the wrong guy, of course there's a confrontation in an isolated location, and of course good triumphs over evil. *Yawn*
The only positive thing I can say about this film is that the acting is way above average for a film of this type. Willa Ford plays Claire as a perfectly devoted but frustrated wife, and her realization of her mistake is handled with a degree of subtlety which I found surprising. Angus Macfadyen, in dual roles, was equally surprising. I've enjoyed his work in films like Titus (heck, I even liked him in Saw III), but I was surprised by the complete change in mannerism he adopts for each character. Of all the actors I've seen play twins (or twin type characters), Macfadyen is the best at convincing me that the two individuals are different, almost different enough to make me think they were played by different actors. Sadly his performance isn't enough to recommend the film to anyone but his die-hard fans.
Sony gives us the film in a remarkably clean transfer which looks much better than the movie deserves. The audio won't stun you, but it gets the job done. There are no extras to speak of, and that's probably for the best. I'd hate to hear anyone have to defend this film in a supplement.
Impulse is guilty of wasting talent on a tired story and an uninspiring script.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R