Title: Elektra Luxx
Directed By: Sebastian Gutierrez
Starring: Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Malin Akerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Marley Shelton
When you’re about to watch a sequel and you can barely remember what happened in the first film, you know you’re heading for trouble. Well, while there’s certainly trouble to be had in writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s Elektra Luxx, just like its predecessor, Women in Trouble, there’s something keeping you from completely dismissing this sloppy mess of a film – the characters.
First off, we’ve got our titular character (no pun intended), Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino). She’s pregnant and retired from the porn industry, instead, opting to teach a class called “How To Act Like a Porn Star in Bed” at the local community center. One day, Cora (Marley Shelton), the flight attendant from Women in Trouble, comes barging in revealing she has a folder full of songs her late rock star baby daddy, Nick Chapel (Josh Brolin), wrote before his demise. Cora offers Elektra the songs, but under one condition; Elektra must seduce her husband so Cora doesn’t have to feel guilty about cheating on him with Nick. Sure enough, the plan goes awry and in the mess, Elektra finds out an awfully good-looking private detective (Timothy Olyphant) has been assigned to keep an eye on her.
Meanwhile, sex blogger Burt Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is back and continues to document Elektra’s exploits all while trying to keep his little sister, Olive (Amy Rosoff), from using his website to turn herself into the next Internet sensation. Bambi and Holly Rocket (Emmanuelle Chriqui and Adrianne Paliciki) are back as well and this time around, the girls are looking to take some time off and enjoy a vacation. Holly’s still holding onto those feelings for Bambi, so when Bambi opts to try to squeeze in a little work during their getaway, Holly uses her askew intellect to foil the night.
Women in Trouble is a must if you’re hoping to get into Elektra Luxx. (Again, no pun intended.) Just about everything that happens in this sequel isn’t only directly connected to the events of the first film, but dependent on them. Cora and Elektra certainly talk a lot about Nick Chapel in the beginning of the film, but not once do they give an adequate explanation of what exactly brought them to where they are today. Luckily for folks unfamiliar with Elektra’s work, the two trail right off into some harebrain and nonsensical scheme involving drugs, seduction and Timothy Olyphant.
That’s Elektra Luxx’s biggest problem throughout; it jumps around so erratically not only is it impossible to keep up, but even if you can, it’s all just so damn ridiculous. There are so many people and mini situations none of which seem to fit together. The film feels more like a series of sketches than a feature film. Gutierrez does manage to establish Elektra’s financial plight as a through line, albeit weakly, however, it’s just not enough to give the film any sort of forward motion.
The whole structure of Gutierrez’s script is just completely off. Okay, we don’t always need a clear beginning, middle and end, but Elektra Luxx lacks any organization whatsoever. One moment we’re with Elektra, the next we’re with Holly and Bambi and by the time we get back to Elektra, she’s in an entirely new and unrelated predicament.
The most successful portions of the film are the ones focusing on Bambi and Holly. Regardless of whether or not you know their history, their current situation is well established and instantly engaging. Like with Women in Trouble, Palicki steals the show. Holly isn’t “the brightest stool in the shed” and some of her dialogue is painfully moronic, but Palicki makes it work. Chriqui puts on a fine performance too, but there’s just something about Palicki and her character that’s incredibly charming.
The same goes for Elektra, too. The character is fantastic and Gugino is the ideal actress for the job, it’s just too bad Gutierrez doesn’t quite know what to do with her. However, Gugino is an absolute natural in the role and is able to work with what she’s given to the point at which you actually wish Elektra were your friend. At one point in the film, Elektra asks herself why so many people feel the need to bear their souls to her on this particular day. It’s because there’s actually something quite warm and almost motherly about her.
The one glitch that almost ruins the film entirely is the editing. This is some of the laziest work I’ve seen in quite awhile. The film is packed with ill-timed cuts and mismatched shots. There are a handful of other technical issues as well like continuity errors and poorly planned shots, but the editing issues are the only ones that actually threaten to take the viewer out of the film.
Clearly Elektra Luxx is bursting at the seams with problems, as was Women in Trouble, but again, there’s just something incredibly intriguing about these characters. It’s basically that bad film you just can’t turn off. There’s something so likable about Elektra, Bambi, Holly and Bert that you’re desperate to see what happens next even if you’re not entirely enjoying what’s happening right now. It’s a strange paradox, but it works and that asset certainly comes in handy when Gutierrez hints at the third film of this series, Women in Ecstasy.
By Perri Nemiroff