Owen Gleiberman
October 01, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Splendor

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Kathleen Robertson, Johnathon Schaech
genre
Drama, Comedy, Erotic

We gave it a B-

Gregg Araki is the transgressive tease of indie filmmakers. When you read descriptions of his movies, like ”The Doom Generation” or his latest, Splendor, they sound kinky and fearless and wild, but they’re really artificial youthquake fashion statements. He’s the sort of postmodern Los Angeles fetishist who prefers polyester to flesh.

In ”Splendor,” Kathleen Robertson, a ”90210” refugee who looks like a Midwestern Nicole Kidman, is sexy and vibrant as Veronica, an L.A. adventuress who lands two boyfriends at once — a punk hunk (Matt Keeslar) and a cute artiste (Johnathon Schaech) — and decides to keep them both. The three move in together, forming a domestic ménage à trois, and the movie, with its little rivalries and taboo tweaks, is, for a while, an entertaining variation on ”Jules and Jim.”

The Araki touch is there, though; ultimately, he presents the outrageous arrangement with a rogue-sitcom shrug. The two guys, who turn out to be junk food-scarfing bums, are so thinly sketched that they barely add up to one guy, and since the movie is actually quite coy about revealing any bedroom details, it gradually loses wattage. Robertson, however, is a real sparkler.

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