The Intended (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

A poor couple from the north of England arrives at a Malay jungle station in 1924, he to engineer a road through the jungle, she (co-author Janet McTeer) to accompany him. She is significantly older than her partner, and they seem to be running away from some uncomfortable situation back home, but their history is not explicitly presented. The newcomers realize that it is not just they who have come to the jungle to escape. The white people who live at the post, headed by the penurious widow who runs the operation, are a close-knit collection of bizarre and eccentric characters, and they do not make it especially comfortable for the outsiders to get adjusted.

Living and working conditions at the jungle outpost are quite different from what the newcomers had expected. Their salary is not to be paid until their assignment has been completed, in contradiction to what they were told in England. Their living quarters are infested with insects and their putative bedroom is an open area separated by a flimsy curtain from the priest's room. It would be difficult enough for the couple to have a sex life with a priest a few feet away, but they have other problems of their own. She seems to be sexually frigid, and has never had an orgasm in her life. As if the entire situation were not comfortable enough, she is required to sit around the station for months at a time with nothing to do whilst he makes his road-building excursions into the jungle.

Given that she is the only sexually desirable woman in the camp, her presence, coupled with her fiancÚ's absence, triggers various passions among the local menfolk, particularly the station manager's odd son, who is 40ish but still has a unusually close relationship with his elderly nanny. I mean really close. I mean that the nanny gives him regular sexual relief. This is quite a sight to see, given that he's a fat guy with rotting teeth, and the nanny is Olympia Dukakis. As you might well imagine, a guy who has been stuck in the jungle with his domineering mother, and whose only sexual outlet is Olympia Dukakis, finds himself very interested when Janet McTeer is walking around the camp with her DDD chest barely covered. Mischief ensues.

The script takes a page from the classic French film Going Places in that the formerly frigid woman manages to get her rocks off when manipulated into sex with the fat, ugly guy! This is an experience which confuses and shames her. The fat guy, however, is delighted to find that sex can be better than a hand-job from Olympia Dukakis.

You'd think all of that would be enough of a premise to carry a movie, as it was (more or less) for The Night of the Iguana. You might think that, but in this case, you would be wrong. The movie sets all of that up, then moves its focus elsewhere - to a noir sub-plot about a greedy struggle between the powerful widow, her nephew, her son, and even the priest, all of whom are maneuvering to get enough of the ivory money to get the hell out of hell and back to civilization. The weepy melodrama eventually leads to so much greed, murder, suicide, deceit and torture that you'd think their company must be Halliburton and their jungle must actually be Dick Cheney's undisclosed location.

On the other hand, it is the Citizen Kane of Olympia Dukakis hand-job movies.


Notes on the DVD:

It's not that good a script to begin with. Add to that the fact that the cinematography is lackluster, shot on DV and harshly lit. Then top off those two negatives with a terrible DVD transfer - not only poorly done, but censored!! First of all, it presents a perfunctory pan-n-scan full screen version of the film, with faces and other important information cut off at the sides. (There is also a trailer on the disc, which is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio, and which looks much better. Even the flesh tones are better on the trailer than in the film proper, which is too yellow.)

Not only is the film butchered in terms of photographic composition, but the DVD has been heavily censored. The original film is a treasure-trove of Janet McTeer nudity, every frame of which has been snipped for the DVD! (Although male nudity has been retained.)

That is a shame, because the disk also includes about an hour's worth of in-depth interviews with the cast and the director, all of which is wasted because of the butchered and censored transfer of the film they are discussing so earnestly.

 

DVD INFO

  • See above
  • NOT recommended

 

NUDITY REPORT

Janet McTeer shows her breasts in two sex scenes, and her bum in the second one.

JJ Feild shows his bum, as does David Bradley

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $3.8 million for production. It failed to get any meaningful distribution in the USA, grossing all of $7,500 in four theaters.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, I think the film itself should be graded a C-. This particular DVD has been censored, however, and the transfer is inadequate, so it would be an F if not for the special features. The interviews, however, are fairly interesting. If we had another DVD with the same interviews and a solid widescreen transfer of the original running length, I would say it would be worth watching for the nudity and the great cast, despite the harsh DV look, and the absurd melodrama. Unfortunately, no such DVD exists.

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