Money Shot

By Benedict Cohen | Comedy
A celebrity sex tape broker faces his worst nightmare -- a tape of his own wife.

It's the early 2000s in England, and David, a celebrity sex tape broker, trades in salacious videos. But then one day his worst nightmare comes true: he comes across a tape featuring his wife Beverley. And the man who brought it to him wants more than money... he wants revenge for a past tape featuring his girlfriend.

After a scuffle, the two look like they're going to strike a deal, but then the wife in question arrives on the scene. When the truth breaks open, David and Beverley find themselves at a precipice as a couple.

Written and directed by Benedict Cohen, this breezy short comedy has a racy title, but its humor is based on understated, witty dialogue, brought to life by excellent performances grounded in the emotional reality of a disintegrating marriage. What seems like a gangster-style crime short shifts into a surprisingly thoughtful portrayal of partnership, infidelity and loyalty.

Compressed into one scene in one room with a limited amount of characters, there's a stylized, slightly seedy look to the film, with its production design, canny costuming and warmly, slightly heightened cinematography lightly evoking the unsavory world that David operates in.

It's not unlike something out of Guy Ritchie's early oeuvre, and for a moment, the film touches on the macho posturing of films like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." But the excellent writing has more up its sleeve, especially when Beverley enters the scene, forcing David to confront the truth of their marriage.

Actor Anna Wilson-Jones has both a formidable, no-nonsense strength and a confident sexiness, forming a complementary match to David's streetwise savvy, played by actor Matt Bardock with brisk flair, a hardened demeanor and just a touch of melancholy and resignation. They seem well-suited in temperament and personality, but clearly, the couple has drifted apart. The sex tape may be the final straw -- but it may also be just what saves their marriage.

Well-crafted and consistently compelling, "Money Shot" has a strong basis in character and genuine emotional truth, without overplaying any of its elements. Those viewers looking for something racy won't get much except some suggestive shots and heavy breathing. But those interested in how two people negotiate the long game of marriage -- and how truth and a little bit of jealousy may be the spark that relights the fire of attraction -- will be well-rewarded with a cheeky, excellent watch.

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