The Wisdom Of Crocodiles (1999)
Main cast: Jude Law (Steven Grlscz), Elina L÷wensohn (Anna Levels), and Timothy Spall (Inspector Healey)
Director: Poh-Chih Leong

The Wisdom Of Crocodiles is a confusing mess of a movie that doesn't know whether it wants to be a kung-fu movie, an extended The X Files episode, a love story, or an outright arty metaphor about AIDS. It also has gaps in logic large enough to swallow the moon. The only reason I keep watching is the intense, seethingly erotic onscreen chemistry between Law and L÷wensohn.

Grlscz is a medical researcher who lives in what seems like a Batcave for serial killers. Indeed, Steven seduces women into loving him before drinking their blood, vampire style, in order to survive. The man has some sort of disease that requires him to "drink a woman's love for him in her blood" survive. Is this movie talking about AIDS?

After draining a suicidal woman (Kerry Fox) he seduced in greatly disarming style, Steven now focuses his attention on chirpy engineer Anna. However, Anna soon becomes more important to him than he thought. And the police is hot on his trail too, and Steven isn't above playing cat-and-mouse games with the likeable and cunning Inspector Healey.

Now, for a reseacher or an engineer, the main characters have way too much free time to spend cuddling in bed all day long or take what seemed like three-hour long lunch breaks. These and other little illogical things jar me from enjoying TWOC fully. Granted, I know this is a fantasy, but to see our two lovebirds taking a whole day off without alerting their bosses, when they feel like doing so, is pushing it too far.

However, Steven and Anna generate enough slow heat to melt the polar icecaps. Steven's role is zombie-like, obsessively compulsive in private, but when he is with Anna, his personality changes into one of devastatingly charming and flirtatious elegance. Anna displays a winning streak of cheeriness tampered with enough strength and melancholy to make her an intriguing object of Steven's attention. Their quiet times together, always with Steven's predatory instincts hovering above them, are warm and genuinely romantic.

This relationship also explores how love drives one over the brink. Even after she realizes what sort of a man Steven is, Anna still stays, as if she is even more excited at the prospect of flirting with death at the hands of the man she loves. It's like an erotic paean to death, where death and ecstasy have blurred into one orgasmic landscape.

Oh, and Steven's scenes with Healey are also gems in their own right, where both indulge in sometimes philosophical, sometimes shallow, but always delightful repartees. Spall's animated weariness and cynicism contrasts wonderfully with Law's deadpan jadedness in their scenes.

I do enjoy TWOC tremendously, but solely on the strengths of the main actors. Law's charismatic seductiveness, L÷wensohn's waifish strength, and Spall's droll and laconic nature are what makes this movie a memorable experience to savor.

Rating: 88

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