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  Voyeurs, The She Likes To Watch
Year: 2021
Director: Michael Mohan
Stars: Sydney Sweeney, Justice Smith, Ben Hardy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Katharine King So, Cameo Adele, Jean Yoon, Cait Alexander, Blessing Adedijo, Bianca Blizzard, Sandrine Bergeron, Emily Shelton, Ryo Hayashida, Inka Malovic, Jillian Harris, Madelline Harvey
Genre: Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and her boyfriend Thomas (Justice Smith) have moved into this Montreal apartment with a view to settling down, though he is more keen on the settling than she is, as she wants to live a little before they, say, have kids or think too hard about their careers. He is a commercial music composer and she is an optometrist, not occupations that afford too much excitement, so when Pippa realises they can see in through the windows of the apartment opposite, her interest is piqued, especially when one night after they move in they witness the couple who live there have enthusiastic sex in full view of them...

Time was this was the kind of thing that would open in cinemas, what they used to call an erotic thriller, which meant a suspense drama with a few twists and some sex scenes and nudity to snare the punters hoping to see glamorous movie stars in the buff. But then video came along, and in the nineties the likes of Shannon Tweed and Shannon Whirry and other actresses not called Shannon staked their claims as the queens of the cheapo erotic thriller, strictly straight to video, and the genre became debased, as it was clear from the format it was something to be watched on your own with the pause button to hand. The era of cinematic sex was over.

Had The Voyeurs been released in theatres, it would have been a valiant call to arms, or some other body parts, for those who were unashamed to admit they liked looking at nudity, but as the culture had grown simultaneously more prurient and prudish, such admittances were largely used as ammo against those expressing their preferences, and it was mostly the obnoxious who made a virtue of wanting more of the unclad form. Once again, the enjoyment of a tawdry but amusing entertainment was spoiled, but there was a new path such diversions could take, and that was the streaming services which were less squeamish about depicting bare naked ladies and gentlemen alike.

They had their pause button uses as well, and well-publicised reassurances that sex choreographers and nudity chaperones on the set were getting gainful employment took some of the guilt out watching the participants - no fear of a Last Tango in Paris controversy haunting these efforts. Did that render such things a little too safe, too respectable, too boring, even? If it did, then the writer and director here, Michael Mohan, had a solution: make your plot kind of nasty. Actually, there was no kind of about it, leading up to a punchline that took revenge on anyone who has spied on, or taken images of, anyone without their permission, particularly if they weren't wearing any clothes at the time. This moral stance was coupled with a resolution that didn't make much sense in the real world, but emotionally satisfied.

Pippa taps into her inner pervert to initially stare at her flagrant neighbours through binoculars, and before you know it she has corralled Thomas into assisting her bugging the apartment across the way she she can enjoy her very own sexy soap opera. Not only does the guy (Ben Hardy) have sex with his wife (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), but as a photographer working from a home studio he has his selection of attractive models to seduce, all as Pippa watches open mouthed and salivating, rewarding her partner with sexual favours to justify her addiction. It cannot last, of course, and as the reference to Aesop's fables implied, this was probably not to be taken literally, just as well when it built to a set of circumstances relying so heavily on coincidence as to verge on the laughable. But the film knew you wouldn't be laughing when Sweeney doffed her togs, she would have your undivided attention, and her acting indicated she had the charisma to establish a fanbase with choices like these. Say what you liked, The Voyeurs was effective in its ambitions. Music by Will Bates.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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