Almost nothing about “Illicit” rings true — but thanks to the likable, earnest and attractive cast, and the semi-salacious, soap-opera vibe to the proceedings, my attention never wandered, and I’ll admit I was mildly curious about how everything would play out.
Not that I was surprised when the big twist defied plausibility, and the voice-over narratives from the key players sounded more like Facebook-level philosophy than true insight.
This is the kind of movie where the supposedly deep truths are lurking about two inches beneath the absolutely shallow surface.
David Ramsey plays Guy Curtis, a parole officer and family man who must be the best parole officer ever, given the size and comfort of his home and the lavish nature of his workplace, which looks like an upscale law firm.
Shireen Crutchfield is Guy’s wife, Sasha, a former model who has put her career on hold to be a stay-at-home mom to their daughter and support Guy’s career.
“I think I am a damn good husband,” says Guy in voiceover. “I bought Sasha the house she always wanted, I’ve got a great job. … I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but I hope Sasha knows she’s got one of the good ones.”
Cut to Sasha, who has her own take on things and doesn’t seem entirely satisfied with the arrangement:
“My family is everything. That’s why breakfast is on the table every morning, and dinner is ready by 7. My husband wants me to focus on our home for now, and my career will pick up later.”
Sidebar: I have great respect for parole officers. They are often THE key conduit/monitor/friend/advisor for an offender who is trying to find work, stay out of trouble, stay off drugs and alcohol and avoid recidivism.
But nobody becomes a parole officer to get rich. Given Guy’s chosen profession and the fact Sasha is insanely beautiful and apparently had a burgeoning career, this is one of the more ludicrous set-ups in any movie this year. STAY AT HOME, GUY! SASHA CAN QUINTUPLE THAT INCOME!
Anyway. Off we go with the premise that Guy the parole officer is the big earner, and Sasha the former model is bored at home.
In fact, Guy’s up for a big promotion as long as he stays on the good side of his tough-as-nails boss (Vivica A. Fox), who tells him to stop screwing up — but for someone we previously surmised might be the best parole officer ever, Guy just might be the worst parole officer ever, given how quickly he surrenders to the seductive ways of a young felon named Faren (Michele Weaver).
Meanwhile, Sasha agrees to a private photo session with an obvious creeper named Lance (McKinley Freeman), and he snaps maybe a dozen photos before they drop the pretense and get down to business.
Guy and Sasha wrestle with guilt and conflicted feelings — but each is so self-centered, the idea their partner might also be seeking pleasure elsewhere is out of the question.
Director and co-writer Corey Grant tosses in some entertaining wrinkles, including the appearance of Dean Cain of TV’s “Superman” and “Supergirl” as a hedonist of the first order, and at least two scenes in which Guy seems to forget he’s a parole officer and he can make an arrest if there’s probable cause.
After some ridiculous shenanigans, “Illicit” wraps things up with voice-overs from Sasha and Guy, imparting “wisdom” no more enlightened than the thoughts they shared with us at the beginning of the journey.
None of us learned anything.
NOTE: Director Corey Grant and actors David Ramsey and McKinley Freeman are expected for a Q&A after a preview screening of “Illicit” at 7:15 p.m. May 4, preceded by a 6 p.m. reception, at Studio Movie Grill, 210 W. 87th St. For tickets, $35, call (312) 972-9662.
Breaking Glass Pictures presents a film directed by Corey Grant and written by Grant and Lanett Tachel. No MPAA rating. Running time: 120 minutes. Opens Friday at Studio Movie Grill in Chatham.