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The Opposite of Sex

If her acclaimed performance in The Ice Storm didn’t convince you that Christina Ricci had graduated from brat actress (Mermaids, The Addams Family) to budding star, check out the eighteen-year-old fireball in this tart-tongued erotic comedy. Ricci rips into the role of Dedee Truitt, a ripe piece of Louisiana jailbait who leaves home to visit her gay half-brother, Bill (Martin Donovan), in Indiana and seduces everyone in sight without regard for age, occupation or sexual orientation. Dedee is a cookie full of arsenic, and Ricci plays her with sultriness to spare.

All of which makes life hell for Bill, a mild-mannered English teacher who has lost his rich lover, Tom, to AIDS and is just now getting involved with the hunkish Matt (Ivan Sergei). Tom’s sister Lucia (Lisa Kudrow) claims to find all sex distasteful, but Dedee can see that Lucia is nursing a hopeless crush on Bill. Or maybe it’s not that hopeless if Lucia learns by example. After all, Dedee manages to lure the gay Matt into her bed and get herself pregnant.

Screenwriter Don Roos (Love Field, Single White Female), in his debut as a director, stirs up a brew that is libidinous, lethal and a bitch to follow. Dedee persuades Matt to steal $10,000 from Bill and run off with her to L. A., leaving Bill and Lucia on their trail, followed by Carl Tippett (Lyle Lovett), a sheriff with a thing for Lucia, and Jason (Johnny Galecki), an ex-lover of Matt’s, who accuses Bill of past sexual harassment.

Got that? No matter. The fun, and profane fun it is, comes in watching the characters work out their carnal kinks. Kudrow, eons from her flighty role on Friends, is a hard-shell revelation. But the movie belongs to Ricci. Whether she’s reading the film’s wittily misleading narration or doing startling things to help us see behind Dedee’s facade, this babe is the bomb. Dedee may smart-mouth herself into oblivion, but Ricci is headed for a stunning future.

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