Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Personally Selected Venus 12: Linda Fiorentino in Jade

Here is a still from William (The Exorcist) Friedkin's erotic thriller (remember those?) Jade (1995) which pretty much encapsulates the film noir-ish appeal of actress Linda Fiorentino, who was on the cusp of becoming a huge star in the nineties, although it didn't quite work out that way.  This is a great image, helped, compositionally by the angle of the shot and the moody lighting.  The light on her upper thigh (Fiorentino had great legs) gives a tangible, tactile impression of her flesh and her wonderful back is highlighted too.

Her definitive role was as a femme fatale in the film noir, The Last Seduction (1994) in which, as one reviewer noted, she spends a lot of time squatting so that you can see that she is wearing stockings.  I went to see it in London with a girlfriend at one of the smaller arthouse cinemas (The Curzon?) and she immediately started wearing black hold-up stockings as a result; a very gratifying outcome.

The Last Seduction was an arthouse hit and Fiorentino's performance was being spoken of as Oscar worthy but, unfortunately, her film company had shown it on HBO before its theatrical release thus disqualifying it.  She was nominated for and won a number of lesser awards for the role including the London Film Critics Circle Award and she was nominated for a BAFTA.  It has a very high 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and we highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.

As a result of The Last Seduction's success many of her older, straight to video films were re-released such was the buzz around her. In 1995 Vogue had Herb Ritts shoot a fashion pictorial of her as she was so high profile at the time.  Famously,  She was offered a body double for the sex scenes in The Last Seduction but turned it down and did them herself.  Fiesty!

Actually, maybe rather too feisty, as she developed a reputation for being 'difficult' and her work dried up at the end of the nineties but not before she had appeared in Men in Black (1997), her part in which was an indicator of how well known she had become.  Tommy Lee Jones, however, was quoted as saying he wouldn't come back for Men in Black 2 if Fiorentino was involved.  Others said she wanted too much money.  She said she was "unavailable".

Of course, according to Fiorentino, she wasn't difficult at all but was just tired of men giving her hassle on set; often the fate, to be fair, of actresses who play a number of sexy roles.   Jade was a flop and the scriptwriter for Jade was Joe Eszterhaz who had become huge following Basic Instinct (1992) but a triple punch of the diabolically bad Sliver (1993) with Sharon Stone, Jade and then the knockout punch of Showgirls (1995) virtually killed his career. Jade's screenplay by Eszterhas was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award as worst screenplay (slightly unfairly as Friedken had rewritten most of it to the extent Eszterhas wanted his credit taken off it) but he was beaten by his own Showgirls.

She hasn't appeared in a film since 2009 but in her prime was one of the most incandescently sexy actresses on screen.  Was she difficult or did she just end up in some not very good, not very successful films?  The other element is her age, of course.  She had been making unsuccessful films for ten years before The Last Seduction and was 37 when it came out.  Tough for an actress pigeonholed as a sex symbol although she is almost exactly the same age as Sharon Stone who. incidentally passed on the role in Jade (as did Julia Roberts).

A still of a Fiorentino sex scene in Jade (which, surprisingly, William Friedkin thinks is his favourite film of all those he has done) was considered perfect to represent the whole genre in Linda Ruth William's book The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema.

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