Jack (Anthony Mackie) is a VP at a large pharmaceutical company until he goes public with allegations of unethical practices. When he loses his job he begins taking money from lesbians in exchange for impregnating them.
This is a confusing film, not in terms of its plot, but in terms of its politics and the way it dwells in the grey area between serious drama and comedy, managing to be weird but not funny. In fact, it’s actually a bit creepy in places, particularly when Jack is forced into aggressive sex with some very butch women.
It certainly has a lot to say about gender relations. It’s a thoroughly modern look at gender roles and the family, as Jack impregnates his former fiancée (for whom he still has feelings) and her girlfriend, where a love triangle soon develops. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling that a film in which a woman is forced to have sex with man after man after man so she can afford to live, and is in one scene made to strip naked in front of a room full of men so they can decide if they want to sleep with her, would be treated in a far darker, more serious way than this, and would probably feel far nastier. As it is, Jack’s grim situation is treated more like a light sex comedy, but the lack of laughs and serious edge leave it feeling rather disconcerting.
It’s also a look at corporatism and corruption, with the persecuted whistle blower, and clear parallels being drawn between the big business Jack worked for and the mob. It examines race relations and stereotyping, and at one point comes very close to calling George Bush racist. The political overtones extend as far as Watergate, which is referenced enough to suggest this might be Lee’s attempt at a modern retelling of the Watergate scandal. With lesbians.
So believe me when I say there’s a lot going on here which makes for interesting viewing. But whether the film works overall is a different question. It has the stylish direction we’ve come to expect from Lee as he displays his usual box of tricks, and there’s a smattering of decent drama. But it also feels like there’s something lacking, a certain spark or drive.
It can’t shake the feeling of being two films merged into one, with the sex and relationships side of the film involving Jack’s ex fiancée feeling completely separate from the side that deals with his corporate affairs. The two sides of the film feel at odds rather than in sync as they share little more than their main character.
A very strange film, on balance the themes and ideas of this film aren’t enough to make it work.