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Wild Side

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The spectre of Quentin Tarantino hangs over this kinky psychodrama, which debuted on HBO last February. At first the setup — a banker (The Juror‘s Anne Heche) moonlighting as a hooker services a money launderer (Christopher Walken), is forced to have sex with his chauffeur (Steven Bauer), then falls for his wife (Joan Chen) — seems more redolent of Red Shoe Diaries auteur Zalman King. But since the script was cowritten by Donald Cammell (who codirected the splendidly pretentious 1970 Mick Jagger movie Performance), the film’s a little more highfalutin than that. Where Wild Side recalls Tarantino is in its casual willingness to go over the top, reaching its peak in a scene where the money launderer rapes the chauffeur (shades of Pulp Fiction‘s Gold Watch sequence). If you think you’ve already witnessed Walken’s most aggressively peculiar performance, you haven’t seen this movie. C

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