White Palace (1990)

Luis Mandoki directs Susan Sarandon, James Spader and Jason Alexander in this romantic drama where two damaged souls start a sex based relationship despite him being rich, Jewish, young and her being “white trash” and in her 40s.

I don’t think I had the guts to rent this from Selecta Video as an adolescent. Two of that era’s most sexually daring stars appearing in what the VHS cover promised to be an absolute bonkathon. There’s actually only two significant steamy scenes here. They happen in the first act and are notable for the desperation and ungainlyness rather than being particularly erotic. At one point a half eaten sandwich is accidentally grabbed. Mandoki is clearly aiming for a different kinda filth. The drama surrounding the “selling points” is about grief and class and solace. And is actually really rather good. It takes some nice jabs at liberal American Democrats hypocritical values and Sarandon’s dialogue has nice defensive sparring humour to it. She is excellent here. Different than what I expected it to be, somehow better than what I expected it to be too.


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