Rules of Obsession

(A Passion to Kill, Rick King, USA, 1994)


David (Scott Bakula from TV's Quantum Leap) is a befuddled psychiatrist. He no longer knows how to relate to his enigmatic ex-lover Beth (Sheila Kelley), a lawyer in the District Attorney's office. Even worse, he's falling for Diana (Chelsea Field), the new wife of his rich best friend Jerry (John Getz). Diana's frequent psychotic episodes hint at a violent, repressed past.

When Jerry is suddenly murdered in mysterious circumstances and Diana instantly shows up at David's door for another bout of kinky sex, he remembers the wise warning issued by Louise (France Nuyen), his own shrink: "It's a dangerous game you're playing!"

Like many contemporaneous erotic thrillers, this one plunders willy-nilly from Presumed Innocent (1990), Final Analysis (1992), Basic Instinct (1992) and Fatal Attraction (1987), and even sneaks a few motifs from Bernard Herrmann's music for Hitchcock onto the soundtrack.

Themes of twisted love, the perversion of law, and child abuse are treated as mere plot devices – enabling a fast, smooth passage to the next spectacular set-piece of sex and/or violence.

Director Rick King, who has made some adventurous, quirky movies (such as Quick, 1993), is unable to add much spice to a formulaic script by William Delligan (who wrote Fritz Kiersch's Shattered Image [1994]).

However, on its most basic whodunit mystery level, Rules of Obsession contrives a few genuinely captivating and deceptive narrative twists.

© Adrian Martin January 1995

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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