Cinema Review: Zipper | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, September 19th, 2021  


Studio: Alchemy
Directed by Mora Stephens

Aug 27, 2015 Web Exclusive
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One of the most disappointing elements of bad cinema is when a movie fails by the virtue of being dull, forgettable, and void of originality. When a movie fails in spectacular fashion, it can become a cult classic like much of the Ed Wood catalog. When Zipper fails, it’s a lazy shrug.

Sam (Patrick Wilson), a maybe ambitious lawyer with possible political aspirations, saunters his way into a life of escort addiction. He risks his career for the pleasure of anonymous sex for absurd sums of money. His supportive wife (Lena Headey) is none the wiser, but he’s grown bored of their marriage so he steps out. Repeatedly, amidst a potential run at a political appointment all because his firm started representing a former escort, which put the idea in his head.

He’s also being profiled for a magazine by an immediately suspicious journalist (Ray Winstone) while being told he needs to be squeaky clean by his new political advisor (Richard Dreyfuss). Both of these actors are completely wasted.

The problem isn’t that Sam is doing stupid and unlikable things. There have been plenty of excellent narratives built around complicated and downright nasty individuals. Beyond being completely unsympathetic, Sam is uninteresting. There is nothing about his character to hook an audience. He is an empty vessel. The movie, through the paper thin tertiary characters, says he’s a brilliant attorney and wonderful man, but Wilson wanders through the movie with a furrow on his brow, and the most inconsistent southern accent, confused as to how he got there.

What’s worse is that writer-director Mora Stephens doesn’t even give him agency. He makes a passing remark about how his wife cheated on him nearly two decades earlier before they were married as though that justifies his actions. Maybe it would work if Sam isn’t being portrayed as a victim. Any claims to a message about sex addiction or comparisons of politics to the sex trade should be ignored. This may have been the intention, but it’s so muddled that it never comes clearly across. It’s like Stephens wanted to make something akin to Shame but either forgot how to use nuance or refused to take Sam all the way into the darkness. He’s given the kid gloves treatment. A pat on the head.

Zipper is a bad movie. It’s clumsily structured with poorly drawn characters, an overly familiar plot, and an overcooked soundtrack that does nothing to enhance the desired tension. It’s ugly, boring, and a complete waste of time.

Author rating: 1/10

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Geoff Burhnam
July 30th 2018

Sam does NOT work in a firm that represented the escort. Sam is a prosecutor. The escort is a witness in a case his office is prosecuting.