Women in Trouble is yet another L.A. ensemble movie in which various strangers intersect on one day and all lives are altered in some way. This film is unique in that all of the characters involved are women and that all of the very talented actresses (save for 13-year old newcomer Isabella Gutierrez) spend a least one scene stripped down to their underwear. Mind you, despite the presence of two characters who are porn stars and one who is a prostitute, there is no sex in this film. There is plenty of frank talk about sex, but no nudity and no copulation whatsoever. So any of you guys looking at the provocative box art thinking you may get a glimpse of Carla Gugino or Connie Britton’s goodies, you’ll be disappointed. However, Women in Trouble is a well-made indie film with some funny and tender moments, even if writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez’s direction is a little inconsistent at times.
Gugino (Night at the Museum) is Elektra, a porn star who learns in the opening frames that she’s pregnant. She walks off the set of her latest production and backs her car into cast mate, Holly (Adrianne Palicki, Friday Night Lights). Elektra then goes to see her doctor and receives the news that changes her life. Soon thereafter she gets trapped in an elevator with high strung Doris (Friday Night Lights’ Britton). While the two of them bond (stripped to their underwear), Holly goes off to perform a three way with Bambi (Emmanuelle Chariqui, Entourage, Deceit), a prostitute she’s in love with. When their john gets threatened by thugs, the two women flee the house. Moments later, Holly is hit by another car, this one driven by Maxine (24’s Sarah Clarke), a psychiatrist who’s just discovered that her husband (The Mentalist’s Simon Baker) has been having an affair with one of her patients, Addy (Caitlin Keats), who just so happens to be Doris’s sister. Holly, Bambi and Maxine flee to a lesbian bar where Maxine gets drop down drunk.
Meanwhile, high up in the clouds, Josh Brolin (W.) plays an English rock star looking to punch his membership card in the mile high club. His conquest is Cora (Marley Shelton, Grindhouse), a flight attendant willing to cheat on her fiancÁ© because Brolin’s Nick Chapel is a huge rock star. Nick is also the father of Elektra’s unborn baby (which is how this plot ties in). This sequence scores points because Cora’s pal, Maggie (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon) has a brilliant monologue about rock drummers who wrote some of their bands biggest hits and goes into an extended explanation about who Gil Moore and Triumph are before rattling of the bands biggest hits and reciting some of the lyrics to ”Magic Power.” Well, I thought it was pretty awesome.
By the time the movie wraps up, each principal character has had some life changing event and each has delivered their own lengthy monologue that reveals intimate details of their lives. None is more outrageous than Holly’s cathartic explanation of the childhood incident that is the root of her being unable to perform oral sex on her female co-stars. Gutierrez has written some strong female characters in this film, which must have attracted them to the project. Among the cast, Gugino and Britton deliver the best performances, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from these two excellent actresses, two stars who bring light to even their dimmest roles. Clarke’s small part is the most heartbreaking, while Palicki shows some natural comic chops as the naÁ¯ve, ditzy Holly. Unfortunately, the few male parts in Women in Trouble come off as a little wooden. Baker seems to be doing a line reading in his scenes with Clarke and the other supporting males come off as very amateurish.
The look of the film had a visual flair that kept me invested for the movie’s 90 minute running time. And for a film with so many interconnected storyline, Women in Trouble managed to stay cohesive and flow nicely. This is not only a credit to Gutierrez, but his editors, Lisa Bromwell and Michelle Tesoro.
Women in Trouble may not be at the top of your list for movies to buy or rent, but it’s definitely worth seeking out the next time you’re in the video store. There are so few movies that really give actresses the opportunity to shine and it would be a shame if this one goes unnoticed.