Temptation, the first feature from writer/director Richard J. Moir begins with a montage of black and white shots of London before segueing into footage of a ballet dancer. It’s a beautiful opening for an ugly story. Not that there’s a way to make a film about this kind of material that isn’t ugly unless you want to make some Hollywood fairy tale like Pretty Woman.
But Temptation is, in style and substance, about as far from Hollywood as it gets. Shot almost entirely in black and white for just over $1,000 it’s a marriage of grim social realism and film as art. Running just over an hour, it’s an impressive work.
Boy (Richard J. Moir) is a London sex worker. Abused growing up and abused now by clients and his pimp. Temptation mixes slices of that life with what appears to be a visualization of what’s going on in his mind. Given the budget Moir obviously had to rely on talent and imagination here.
The dinner sequence shows just how much he can accomplish with dialogue, a few props, and an empty black background. It’s a scene that manages to be touching and funny and accurate while commenting on one of the most awkward of social events, meeting someone’s family. It is, in its own way, a much more accurate portrayal than those in more realistically structured films.
If you’re wondering why I’m not saying much about the plot, it’s because Temptation doesn’t really have one, per se. There seems to be the thread of one, that Boy is trying to shake off his past and its demons. But there isn’t much in the way of a narrative. The film’s heavily surreal structure is mostly open for interpretation by the viewer.
This was something well out of my usual wheelhouse and it made a nice change of pace. Temptation is beautifully shot and put together. Moir can be very proud of creating something that looks like it cost a lot more than it did. It obviously won’t be for everyone but for those who enjoy art films, it would be a good choice. It might also be a good film to watch along with the recently reviewed Dementer, which incorporates similar techniques into a more narrative-driven format.