Olivia (1983)

OLIVIA (1983)
aka Taste of Sin
Article 4636 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-23-2014
Directed by Ulli Lommel
Featuring Suzanna Love, Robert Walker Jr., Jeff Winchester
Country: USA / West Germany
What it is: Erotic thriller

As a child, a woman saw her prostitute mother being killed by a john. Now she’s married to a mean-spirited husband and is haunted by the voice of her mother; under her influence she takes up prostitution and kills a customer. Then she meets a man she really loves, but neither her husband nor her mother would approve…

As far as the story goes, I will give Ulli Lommel some credit with the story, which has some truly unexpected plot twists; it’s a bit of a shame that the biggest plot twist is tied to the most ridiculous murder in the movie. Still, that’s not the worst problem I have with Lommel in this movie. My issue with the movie is that Lommel seems unable to help us connect with his characters; they all remain somewhat distant and unreal, and most of the scenes strike false notes or fail to convince. It can still be enjoyed somewhat from a distance, but it really fails to generate much suspense, and for someone who is trying to borrow a bit from the Alfred Hitchcock playbook, that’s a big problem. Nor do I feel that the movie really gels; the various plot elements never quite come together in a satisfying way. I do sense that Lommel is trying here, but I also sense that he’s just not a very good director, and the movie suffers.

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