The Human Contract
You'll not be astonished to read here that it's a lot easier to write and
direct your own films if you have an incredible amount of wealth and a husband
who is one of the biggest superstars in movie history. The Human Contract
marks the debut of Jada Pinkett Smith as the author of a full-length
screenplay, as well as her debut as the director of a feature-length film. She
and husband Will produced the film.
A massive conglomerate is looking to buy a boutique advertising agency and
convert it to an in-house advertising/marketing department. Two agencies will
pitch head-to-head for the account. The head of one of the ad agencies is
confident that his young marketing genius will have the right ideas, but is
not so sanguine about the whiz kid's private life. The conglomerate is an
ultra-conservative family firm which has built a squeaky clean image upon a
"family values" platform, but our hero is about to get divorced, seems to have
some dark secrets, and has an explosively violent temper.
He also runs into a major complication in the days running up to the big
presentation. A beautiful, free-spirited woman seduces him, and leads him into
sexual adventures which would scotch the deal if the lily-white conglomerate
found out about them. To make matters worse, she is a married women, which
would be a total deal-breaker.
Will he be able to keep his life under control long enough to close the big
Jada Pinkett played a little game with this script. She set it up as an
erotic thriller. About thirty minutes into the film, it seems obvious that the
seductress must be working for the opposing agency, trying to discredit our
hero in the eyes of the conservative conglomerate. This becomes even more
apparent when she insists on filming some of their adventures. Then it turns
out that is not the case at all, and the film plays out as a serious (if
contrived) drama about a tragically doomed romance between wounded people.
There is good and bad news about laying out a film with that strategy. The
good news is that it is original and subverts genre conventions, so the plot
never really goes where one expects it to, and that can be interesting. The
bad news is that it makes the entire set-up a waste of time, in essence a very
long red herring. The big competition between the two agencies is never used
as part of the plot. The film would play out exactly the same if the second
agency did not exist at all. The seductress just turns out to be a quirky,
free-spirited woman who is trying to get through the defenses of an uptight
corporate soldier. That's all.
There is also a second storyline involving the executive's family - a
mother with a tragic past, and a sister with an abusive husband. All of that
heavy drama folds together uneasily with the erotic relationship, at least
until the erotic relationship becomes just as laden with tragedy. Frankly, the
entire film just doesn't work. The erotica is not original, nor very erotic.
All of the main characters are unsympathetic. The secrets are not very
interesting, and their revelation is downplayed, generating nothing more than
a reaction of "That's it? So what?" There is never a clear connection between
the main character's dark secrets and his present unhappiness. Parts of the
exposition prove to have been unnecessary (like the second ad agency). Worse
than unnecessary, those parts are boring. Finally, the payoff is flat, and the
resolution of the romantic relationship is unsatisfying in many ways.
The Smith's money was enough to get her the jobs and the budget, but it was
not persuasive enough to land a theatrical distribution deal. Obviously, a lot
of potential distributors had the same kinds of reactions I had to this odd
film, thus forcing it straight to video. Nonetheless, there were things I
admired about The Human Contract. The sets are interesting, and the visuals
are sometimes spectacular. The script tries to deal with complex and profound
ideas, and some scenes do work well on their own, even if they don't quite
seem to be part of a master plan.
I get the feeling that Jada has talent and may make and/or write good
Unfortunately, this is not one of them.
Paz Vega played the seductress and provided the film's kinda-sorta near
nudity. (It is very sexy, even though there is less flesh than we would like.
Paz Vega looks a lot like Eliza Dushku, at least in this film.
Entourage. I don't know the name of the
actress who plays Nikki the waitress, but
she did this quick flash.
this sex scene with Natalie Zea
True Blood featured
a continuation of the orgy.
I haven't had time to watch Gigantic yet, but I certainly
had time to look at
Zooey Deschanel's first topless scene. Maybe I'll have
some notes on the movie tomorrow, time permitting.