The Club (2004) (V)

Like the made-for-TV movies, Brothers of the Bell and the several more poignant in naming the Skull and Bones inspiration, this film focuses on exposing the ultimate depravity of the elite and what is found “engaging” in their leisure moments, the sometimes criminal excesses that can accrue to the marriage of extreme wealth with pathological narcissism. Of course, any art historian familiar with the work of the masters can tell you of paintings from the sixteenth century depicting, “the hunt for the maiden,” a very fashionable indulgence partaken by English nobility when they grew bored with the more mundane hunts for fox and stag. Like “bear baiting”, however excesses the prim English would best like to forget.

So, the viewers finds themselves presented, perhaps more appropriately than they know, with an English-made film of a club where, every fantasy is indulged, where membership is by invitation only and where the subsequent dead body count mounting is where the film’s first scene opens (after the short interlude of a most odd suicide.)

The unlikely protagonist, Leon Rogers (Treva Etienne,) is oddly invited into membership to perform an appraisal worth a mere fraction of what the actual value of such a favor might fetch… the first clue to an alert viewer, something is amiss. Explained away as an ability the Club and its many world-wide affiliates might regularly require, viewers may still be left with certain misgivings. Something that will impact back on the very brief last scene, interestingly ignored (or missed) by the numerous reviews this reviewer has read. And something that turns the whole plot around, almost like a doublecross to the viewer of the story’s integrity and debt to credibility.

Indeed, were this not missed by all the reviews this reviewer has been able to find, he would not have troubled with any review of the movie himself. Depending far too much on this last scene’s brief dialogue to carry its full implications and the films lack (to any degree) to build any real preparation for it in its structure, the failings gravely outdistance its successes. In short, the movie would have been served a lot better had it NOT had that last scene.

Instead the viewer is left dangling, wondering where a particular fantasy picked up and how many of its dead “soldiers” were actually murdered. All of which might be forgivable in a TV series where the next episode might address questions such as these, but not in the terminal ending of a movie. Either very poor script writing or someone pulled the plug on production (possibly even editing) to get little piggy to market, disservice to both the cast (llaria D’Elia is truly excellent and one of the best in the role of seductress, around.) It’s probably more considerate for me not to list other credits in the same way successful writers disown some earlier work.

Still this movie is invaluable for the chance it gives viewers to check up on reviewers, to realize the written word is not always the golden word.

Has some lovely upper body nudity and fowl (misspelling taking poetic license) language with the rudimentary English habit of presuming to enhance dramatic effect by heavy smoking.

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