The Opposite of Sex
- Christina Ricci as Dedee Truitt
- Martin Donovan as Bill Truitt
- Lisa Kudrow as Lucia DeLury
- Ivan Sergei as Matt
- Johnny Galecki as Jason
- Lyle Lovett as Sheriff Carl
A jet-black comedy that is frequently shocking and covers themes that could be incendiary with caustic aplomb, The Opposite of Sex makes for an unconventional and oddball story, populated by strange yet winning characters and a sarcastic turn from Christina Ricci.
Dedee Truitt is a bitchy, trailer trash 16-year-old girl who runs away from her Louisiana home after burying her stepfather. She high tails it to Indiana where she arrives on the doorstep of her sensitive gay half-brother Bill, who is still mourning the loss of his partner to AIDS. He is currently in a relationship with the hunky but dumb Matt, though he still hasn’t faced the loss of his former flame properly. Dedee, who is secretly pregnant, slowly sets in motion a cunning plan to gain money from Bill, knowing that he has $10,000 in his safe deposit box. Seducing Matt and then pretending that the baby is his, she skips town with him along with the money and the ashes of Tom, in an urn that could fetch a tidy sum. Bill doesn’t know what to do about the situation, but Tom’s sister Lucia, who is highly strung and obviously has feelings for Bill, encourages him to find both of them. Things also heat up when Matt’s former boyfriend and Bill’s former student Jason threatens him with accusations that he made inappropriate advances towards him. As a missing person’s report has been filed by the spiteful Jason, local sheriff Carl, who has the hots for Lucia, has to become involved as Bill and Lucia search for Dedee and Matt. Dedee continues to manipulate everyone for her own gain as a cross-country madcap venture takes place, leading to many realizations and people confronting what they are holding back. Add to this chase murder, ransom, extortion and blackmail and its eventful days for all the people Dedee comes across and wreaks havoc on.
Don Roos made his directing debut with The Opposite of Sex, as well as penning the screenplay. And he does an extremely engaging and biting job at bringing these unusual characters and events to spirited and also darkly comic life. And yet while the film has a dark, rude and sarcastic heart, it surprisingly allows for oddly touching and moving moments to be gleaned. This comes with a definite irony as while Dedee ruins everyone’s lives, she inadvertently helps them come to terms with various issues and personal demons. The Opposite of Sex is ballsy material that takes aim at homophobia and bible-bashing zealots with rapier wit that it is clearly unapologetic for. And while some of the things the movie deals with won’t be to all tastes, it really knows the buttons to press and gets jaw-dropping gasps from you, whether you like it or not. A lot of this comes down to the acidic script, that churns out great one liners at a regular rate. The best example is the use of narration from Dedee, whose view on things is spiked with savage commentary and smart alec remarks. She’s the kind of narrator that is fun to listen too as she is no angel and her mordant assessment of events has to be heard to be believed. I mean, just listen to how she knows that the audience isn’t going to root for her or a withering offer her opinion on the people she ruins. This is a self-aware heroine who doesn’t give a damn, which suits the film down to the ground. Even when she isn’t on screen and it is just her voice, you can’t help but be intrigued and frequently flabbergasted by her thoughts. The pace is pretty quick and filled with sparks, only sometimes having the odd lull that can be forgiven owing to how incisive and scathing it all is. A strangely bouncy score belies the gleefully sardonic and vicious wit of the piece.
Front and centre of it all is Christina Ricci, who is acerbically vicious and seductive in equal measure as the sly Dedee. Ricci embodies the bitchy and sarcastic attitude to an extremely high degree, making you both shocked and strangely attracted to her, even though she’s vindictive. Though there are hints that Dedee may have some form of a heart, the spiky and cutting aspects of the part are what is so appealing, a strength to which Ricci plays to in devilishly vindictive mode. Blasé and snappy as Dedee is, Christina Ricci makes you unusually root for and be fascinated by this trashy jailbait vixen with a mind as sharp as an axe and a tongue like a viper. This is one of the best performances of Christina Ricci, which is no surprise considering how much she puts into the part and other roles too. The other players are also given lively and kooky characters to flesh out this darkly humorous experience. Martin Donovan is perfectly subdued as the mild-mannered Bill, who is too nice for his own good but slowly seeing that he can’t just sit back as all of this chaos ensues. Donovan gets probably the most relatable part in The Opposite of Sex, which he plays to the hilt and never rings false. Really having a blast is Lisa Kudrow as the opinionated and self-righteous Lucia, who finds the idea of sex repulsive but quietly yearns for companionship. She is amusingly passive-aggressive, high and mighty and ever so slightly sour, but Kudrow wisely ensures that she isn’t without sympathy. Ivan Sergei makes the most of his role of the not too intelligent Matt, who gets completely wrapped around the poisonous fingers of Dedee without quite realising it. Johnny Galecki has a ball as the mendacious accuser, while a homespun Lyle Lovett is just right as the sheriff drawn into this outrageous web.
Unapologetically snarky and definitely not adhering to political correctness, The Opposite of Sex couldn’t give a damn about that and comes off as a biting dark comedy that provides biting humour and curious insight into relationships and the complexity of them. Bolstered by a wickedly biting performance from Christina Ricci, this is a film that is best summed up by the tagline ‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be offended’.