To work properly, a rom-com needs humor, heart and sex appeal, elements that The Misadventures of Mistress Maneater struggles to deliver in satisfying doses.
The film – a product of the collaborative work between director C.J. Julianus and his wife Lorrisa Julianus, who wrote the script and starred – tries to squeeze too many different ideas into the same channel and goes to the dogs while traversing a long and bumpy soap opera-ish avenue with more clichés than novelties. Both the phoniness in the characters’ behavior and the inability to pull off interesting plot twists are responsible for making the initial fun wear off real fast.
Lorrisa is Ava Moriarty, an art history PhD dropout with a high I.Q. who, for personal reasons, started to work as a dominatrix, a misunderstood profession invariably subjected to wrong judgments. Ava, who strictly sticks to her contracts, takes a loan from her boyfriend, Boris (Adam Christopher), a Russian mobster, and invests in the real estate company of her gay friend Gabe Amador (Shannon Brown). Tragic events lead to the loss of the money, a predicament that coincides with an unexpected rupture with Boris, who gives her 30 days to have his money back. Luckily, she bumps into a Serbian Episcopal priest, Radovan Markovich (Mickey O’Sullivan), who saves her in a non-spiritual way. While hiding his own secrets, the clergyman sees his church collapse as he becomes the main target of the corrupt Mayor Kupsik (Dave Lichty). The latter intends to build a highway where the church is and hires Ava to frame Radovan, but the plan is pulled to pieces by a growing, if numb, romance between the two. Traumatic memories will bring them even closer, yet the elements drawn from their pasts are just not very keen.
Sad to say that, soon after a promising start, we get unavailing humor, super formulaic dialogue and awkwardly staged situations that conduce to ridiculousness.
While the acting is far from convincing – only Lorrisa, stylishly wearing black leather and brandishing whips, deserves some credit – the plot is ludicrously rickety, and the direction unexceptional, with C.J. opting for plain and practical aesthetics. The few positive aspects found include Ava’s robust feminist prowess – she is merciless for those who call her stupid – and a discernible sense of affection for its main characters. All the rest is empty of astuteness.
Designed to serve moviegoers whose goal is to sit in a theater with their brains on ‘halt’, this cartoonish misadventure is a trite, forced bore.
The Misadventures of Mistress Maneater is available on Amazon Prime now.
Director: C.J. Julianus
Writer: Lorrisa Julianus
Stars: Lorrisa Julianus, Mickey O’Sullivan, Shannon Brown
Runtime: 1h 51 min
Country: United States