Conceived as a homage to the veteran Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni, Eros involves three internationally acclaimed directors - Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh and Antonioni himself - each contributing a film on the subject of erotic love. Anthologies by their inherent nature tend to be highly uneven. And Eros proves no exception, with the individual sections ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Shot against the backdrop of the SARS epidemic, Wong Kar Wai's The Hand turns out to be the most inspired of the segments. Set in nocturnal 60s Hong Kong, it's a gorgeously photographed and designed study of the relationship between an imperious courtesan (Gong Li) and her shy tailor (Chang Chen). Working in a sensual register similar to In The Mood For Love, Kar Wai conjures up an entrancing mood of repressed passions, fetishising the physical touch of both his characters.
Soderbergh's contribution, Equilibrium, concerns a stressed 50s New York advertising executive (Robert Downey Jnr), who's relating a recurring dream to his strangely distracted analyst (Alan Arkin). It boasts crisp performances, some striking monochrome cinematography and a playful capacity to shift between reality and fantasy.
"PRETENTIOUS AND BADLY-DUBBED"
Unfortunately the elderly Antonioni's tale of a couple's break-up, The Dangerous Thread Of Things, resembles a parody of his own earlier work. Brace yourself for pretentious and badly dubbed dialogue ("You dare to pollute the air with these empty words," moans one of the participants), an off-puttingly contrived story and a softcore focus on nubile female flesh, as the actresses frolic naked on a beach in the name of art.