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Review: Wild Things (1998)

Directed by: | 108 minutes | drama, , thriller | , Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, , , , , , , Corey Pendergast, , , Dennis Neal, , Paulo Benedeti , , Jennifer Bini Taylor,

Initially, “Wild Things” appears to be the type of of which there are thirteen in a dozen, a drama about a not very original theme (teacher of the ideal son-in-law type is falsely accused of rape). But appearances can be deceiving. Rather than walking the beaten path, “Wild Things” evolves into an expertly crafted crime thriller with a plethora of surprising and original twists. The viewer is regularly misled and the creators reveal the exact details of the story only at the end. The viewer is thus forced to continue to follow the story with concentration and to appeal to his or her puzzling skills.

The acting in “Wild Things” is of highly variable quality. Kevin Bacon convinces as the unscrupulous and bribable detective Ray Duquette and Matt Dillon also plays the role of Sam Lombardo, the multi-faced teacher. However, Denise Richards is less convincing than the spoiled litter Kelly Van Ryan, while Neve Campbell impresses again as the hard-to-fathom and shut out girl Suzie Marie. Bill Murray also pops up in a nice supporting role as the crafty and unreliable lawyer of Suzie Marie. What is striking is that in “Wild Things” there are almost only beautiful people walking around most of the time in revealing clothing and usually driving around in beautiful cars. The film therefore suffers a bit from the “Aaron Spelling syndrome”, although this image is somewhat nuanced by also showing the poor circumstances under which, in particular, Suzie Marie and her parents live. In this way, “Wild Things” briefly examines the large income disparities that largely determine the socio-economic landscape of contemporary Florida (and that of the United States in general).

Despite a few minor flaws, “Wild Things” is definitely recommended. The film exudes a nice sweltering atmosphere and the many plot changes ensure that the at first glance not even very impressive story remains fascinating for almost the full 108 minutes.

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