Bruce has died. He was run over as he left a party in full view of his friends and now they have to go to his funeral, not something any of them are enthusiastic about. There are plenty of people there, some of them friends and family and others who knew him through business, but practically the whole of the Sloan family are there, with father William (Billy Bob Thornton), a movie executive, wondering if he should stay with his wife Laura (Kim Basinger) or with his mistress Cheryl (Winona Ryder). Yet 1983 was a year of partner swapping...
Or it was according to this, an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's short story collection of connected tales, where the spectre of AIDS was making its presence felt so that the bell sounding the end of an era was being tolled by the Grim Reaper for the hedonists who populated it. So this should have been abundant in hindsight-fuelled ironies and no amount of finger-wagging at the decadent behaviour demonstrated throughout, but in a strange development neither did you feel any degree of tragedy was taking place here, nor that you should be actively despising the characters for their misdeeds.
Instead, the plot, actually a number of intertwined narratives featuring many of the same people whose paths crossed either occasionally or with more intent, simply played itself out without any emotion, as if these individuals from the past were some kind of vaguely exotic creatures who were no more attached to the audience than a collection of microbes being observed under a microscope by a dispassionate scientist. Evidently Ellis, who had a hand in the script, noticed that curiously blank lack of atmosphere and realised that very few would actively give a shit about anybody who wandered languidly onto the screen, because he admitted it was a disappointment.
Maybe they should have kept the vampires in it, as they were there in the original book but when director Gregor Jordan came aboard that whole thread was dropped: it would have certainly made this a lot more distinctive than it turned out to be. Well, there was one aspect to this which had people talking, and that was Amber Heard who appears as the Sloans' son's sort of girlfriend who encapsulated the way in which all this lot are headed straight to their grave sooner rather than later should they decide to continue on this sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Why was Amber notable? That was down to her essaying her role naked or topless for all but three of her scenes.
So if you wanted a good look at her, then this was the movie for you, but the fact that this had to rely on such gimmicks would indicate there wasn't much substance here, not of the sort where you could acknowledge that there was a time and a place being summed up. Every so often there was a spark of life: Chris Isaak as the sleazy father trying to forge a relationship with his grown up son, Brad Renfro (in his last role before his own untimely death) getting involved extremely reluctantly with lowlife Mickey Rourke who is out to make money through kidnapping. Yet too often there was a task for the audience requiring too much effort for too little gain in engaging with what they were seeing; a measure of seediness and watching attractive people going to self-inflicted hell was not enough to rescue any genuine interest in what would happen next. And no wonder when the answer to that was precious little: this doesn't so much end as stop suddenly. Music by Christopher Young.