Extremities | Chicago Reader

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Farrah Fawcett, in the midst of her Ms. 45 career turn, stars as the victim of a sexual assault who takes revenge on her attacker in this dutiful adaptation of William Mastrosimone's play (Fawcett had the same role in the off-Broadway stage production). There aren't any flesh-and-blood characters here, only superimposed attitudes: it's almost like reading a rape-crisis textbook, with every lesson italicized (first there's fear, then there's rage, then there's shock . . . and then we can all sit down and take a test to show how much we've learned). The script spends a lot of time pandering to chic revenge fantasies, but ultimately plops for a liberally compassionate conclusion, so everyone can go home reassured, morally unflustered. Director Robert M. Young (Short Eyes, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez), for whom the message is the beginning and the end and everything in between, doesn't show much in the way of cinematic imagination: you get the measure of his subtlety when he cuts from attacker leading Fawcett offscreen to close-ups of a cat and a canary (but what do we have here really: a cat assessing a meal or two animal innocents appalled at the real beast in their midst? It's the only issue in the film that isn't neatly resolved). With James Russo, Diana Scarwid, and Alfre Woodard.

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