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When executed well movies with multiple storylines can be a lot of fun. While most are dedicated to telling one story with a specific cast of characters, it’s refreshing to occasionally get something different. The key, however, is to have an anchor, one theme or storyline that keeps everything in balance. If you snap the string of a pearl necklace, you have a handful of white, round minerals, not a piece of jewelry. Elektra Luxx is a pearl necklace without its string.
Writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s sequel to his 2009 film Women in Trouble, the titular character, played by Carla Gugino, is a porn star who has exited the business after becoming pregnant and starts teaching a class at the local community center showing women how to better their sex lives. But Elektra is far from the only character in the omnibus operation. There’s Holly (Adrianne Palicki) and Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui), two porn stars vacationing together in Mexico; Bert Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a porn blogger who keeps getting hassled by his younger, wannabe-pin-up girl sister (Amy Rosoff); Cora (Marley Shelton), a flight attendant who tries to get her boyfriend (Justin Kirk) to sleep with another woman to ease her guilt about her own transgressions; and many, many more.
The film’s greatest asset is that it’s actually quite funny. Gugino earns her giggles playing a brash, uninhibited woman with very few boundaries, but it’s her supporting cast that gets most of the real laughs. Palicki’s Holly is, to borrow a phrase, dumber than a bag of hammers and can’t complete a sentence without making some kind of error and exhuming some belly laughs, and Gordon-Levitt’s disgruntled discourse with his mother while trying to videoblog on his website is great. What it doesn’t help, though, is that the rest of the film is a pretty mess.
As alluded to earlier, there’s nothing in Elektra Luxx keeping the stories together outside of the knowledge that everything is happening in the same universe. Essentially a series of disjointed vignettes, the audience is constantly being throttled around, one second watching Gugino talking to Vincent Kartheiser in a broken down elevator, the next watching her have a conversation with an incarcerated twin. While this would be fine with the proper pacing and structure, everything is thrown together in a disorganized hodgepodge. As a result the audience is challenged to try and keep up with everything and organize it in their own heads, which sincerely detracts from the movie watching experience.
With better editing and a few title cards Elektra Luxx could have been massively successful. The cast is a who’s who of incredible talent used in interesting and fun ways, from Lucy Punch as a woman suffering from a vision problem after a sexual incident with her boyfriend, to the aforementioned Kartheiser as a boyfriend thrown out of his girlfriend’s apartment completely nude after he is discovered cheating. Sadly, though, it’s all lost in the scuffle.