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Roxie (2014)


Two old gits – somewhere in their flabby, smug sixties – overcome their instincts as marriage guidance counsellors and decide to hire prostitutes at a conference. Really. Then things go all réaliste in a naked-old-men too stupid to twig their fantasies are paid for and finite way. And we get to join them in their empty encounters in cheap film-school filmography. Roxie…nothing to learn here about getting old; tons to learn if you can’t get creepy quite right.

You could feel the atmosphere change in the room when this one came on the telly. It shifted from pleasant munching of cucumber sandwiches and the rich potential to fight crime in the village to a kind of queasy anger. Macular Mike insisted we fight through to the end of this indy awfulness. He was adoring of chief escort Roxie and wholly blind to every sign that we should slap on an old Strictly instead. And by sign I mean a man and his flab wanking under the sheets to the tune of his own despair. Shudder.

David Usner plays Dave Hutchins – the confident, successful one with a book, followers and fast-approaching divorce. Triggered by old paid-for-flame Roxie, he plummets from party-leader to wretch. In hairy close-up.

Joel Roth plays Joel Robbins – the coweringly introverted one who hasn’t slept with his wife Sheryl (played by Sheryl Hartman – you’re getting the cloying sense of improv., aren’t you? ) in two years. Triggered by meeting Roxie for the first time, he plummets from silence and self-pity into adolescent adoration (or “love”) and out the other side.

I wanted them all to die. Honestly. Had Roxie (Kelly Burk playing a hitlist of character inconsistencies) slipped cyanide into the food chain it would be worth the wait just to make this stop. It was like watching a Jabba the Hutt introspective. One where Jabba goes with the slave girls then whinges self-pityingly for a solid two hours of screen time. No laughs, no fun, no long-shots when the hairy old farts get naked; just a real sense of vanity making something wretched in the place of depth. Faux is piled upon faux and then, much like Macular Mike after the revenge laxatives hit his bowels, you are blissfully free.

I’m not sure what the film is saying about the women trapped in these sleazy-man fantasies. Complicit, weak, sad and accepting doesn’t feel like agency to me. One of them, berated by Dave for not answering his now-real questions (“Do you enjoy this?” NO!), comes perilously close to rolling her eyes and sighing as deeply as the audience.

Old Jack is a straight, white, comfortably pensioned man. Whenever I don’t understand what the young, LGBTQIed, minoritied or female have to go through, I’ll think of Roxie. I have a deep, dark suspicion this is what the old, white, straight and male look like to them. And it is smug and pitiable. Make that piteous. Or just ghastly. And of the distant past.

I watched this so you don’t have to.

Remember that.

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