US | 2015 | Directed by Jon Knautz
Logline: A mentally unstable woman begins a volatile descent into madness when she suspects her lover has left her for another woman.
From the working titles of Mania and The Dark Side of Venus, Jon Knautz’s third feature became the elusive and alluring, but more importantly, the double-edged sword, Goddess of Love. The Venus of this tale is no deity for worship; this is a warrior for whom reality and fantasy have collided and there will be intentional and collateral damage. Goddess of Love is one bitchin’ psychosexual thriller.
Venus (Alexis Kendra, who co-wrote and co-produced with Knautz, and was also production designer) lives alone in her apartment decked out like an exotic Arabian love nest, although, sadly, she has no lover to share it with. She spends her days taking ballet lessons, tickling the ivories at home, and drinking lots of red wine and smoking pot, while her nights are spent dolled up and zoning out, taking her clothes off at a strip club.
One of her private lap dances is for Brian (Woody Naismith), a handsome photographer, and recent widower. They strike up an immediate rapport, and the mutual attraction leads them straight to third base, and an enthusiastic home run. Venus is over the moon. Despite Brian’s emotional fragility, she feels she has found the one, and it is time to invest her everything, beginning with serving his favourite pasta dish and finding him that perfect keepsake.
But the honeymoon period, though sweet, is very short. Before Venus can say “Aphrodite’s got nothin’ on me!” Brian has retreated, and suddenly Venus finds their communication has been reduced to short, sharp text messages. Worse still, she intercepts a voice message to Brian from another woman, Christine (Elizabeth Sandy), who sounds way too friendly.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Jealousy rears its ugly head with the savage intent of a green cut snake, and Venus is on the warpath. Infatuated with Brian, but more importantly, obsessed with Christine’s invasion and the injurious repercussions it is having on her own psyche Venus swiftly descends into a delusional rage, hell bent on revenge.
Knautz also acted as cinematographer, and the movie looks sensational. Whilst embedded with a cool, sensual style, awash with colour and dynamic movement, the narrative, both in mise-en-scene and character, is compelling. Kudos to Alexis Kendra for her fantastic central performance - she’s in almost every scene - as she bravely rides the rollercoaster of emotions, laid bare, being thrown around the arena of love’s cruel intent.
As the tagline warns, “Be careful who you get close to.” This is one bombshell with a very short fuse. Her Tinder account should read, “Danger UXB.”
Goddess Of Love screens as part of Melbourne’s Monster Fest, Sunday, November 29th, 3pm, Lido Cinema.