'Addicted': Film Review

Courtesy of Lionsgate
Sex addiction, Cinemax-style

A successful businesswoman struggles with sex addiction in this adaptation of Zane's best-selling erotic novel

Awkwardly toggling back and forth between soft-core prurience and public service announcement-style seriousness, Addicted clearly wants to have its cake and eat it too, preferably while naked. Based on the novel by best-selling erotica author Zane, the film unfortunately depicts black female sexuality, a topic rarely portrayed onscreen, with all the depth and subtlety of a late night Cinemax offering. That probably won't deter its female target audience, especially since its three ridiculously handsome, chiseled male leads spend much of their screen time in various states of undress.

Sharon Leal plays the central role of Zoe, a successful businesswoman who seems to have an idyllic life with her devoted husband Jason (Boris Kodjoe), two adorable kids and ever-helpful live-in mother (Maria Howell). But as the opening scene in which she visits a female therapist (Tasha Smith) makes clear, Zoe, who has a mysterious scar on her wrist, is nonetheless dissatisfied. Promptly after engaging in vigorous sex with her husband, she retreats to her study to finish herself off with the help of internet porn and a sex toy. Despite the fact that, as she tells her shrink, she and her husband sometimes have sex "two or three times a day" (the envious sighs from the largely female audience were clearly audible), she's looking for something more.

She finds it in the form of her new client, dashing Latin artist Quinton Canosa (William Levy), who tells her at their meet-cute encounter that "I just love to watch the way your lips move." Visiting him at his home/workspace the next day, she immediately falls under the sway of his smoldering bedroom eyes, thick accent and sculpted abs revealed by his open shirt. The two begin a torrid affair, with the ever-flustered Zoe soon neglecting her son's soccer games and an important meeting with a rich businessman.

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Quinton proves himself to be no casual fling, soon importuning her to leave her husband. Persuading her to pose for a nude painting, he tells her, "I want to paint you and put you over my bed." The cause of his emotional neediness is explained in an emotional revelation about his abandonment by his mother when he was a child, one of the several tidy psychological explanations in Christina Welsh and Ernie Barbarash's screenplay.

Rather than giving up the affair, Zoe embarks on a second one, with studly biker Corey (Tyson Beckford) with whom she initially has sex in a nightclub bathroom. The pair are soon frequenting sex dens, with her new lover also demonstrating a strong possessiveness.

Even as she becomes increasingly unraveled, at one point nearly getting caught pleasuring herself in her office, Zoe's sessions with the shrink provide little help.

"Is there some medication or pill you can prescribe?" she asks forlornly.

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Things inevitably come to a head in a melodramatic scene involving all the principals, with Quinton revealing a heretofore only hinted at psychotic side and Zoe finding a handy solution to her problem via a violent accident. We eventually learn the reason for her sex addiction in the sort of neat, twelve-step program scene that fairly begs for the inclusion of a website where viewers can get more information.

Leal, onscreen for virtually the entirety of the film's running time, delivers a strong performance despite the schematic script, while the male leads provide the necessary eye candy for the many gauzily photographed but not terribly explicit sex scenes. Among the supporting players, Emayatzy Corinealdi makes a strong impression as Zoe's supportive but increasingly concerned assistant.

Treating its important subject matter with a near Reefer Madness-style hysteria, Addicted ultimately proves less than addicting.

Production: Codeblack Films, Lionsgate
Cast: Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, Tasha Smith, Tyson Beckford, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Kat Graham, William Levy
Director: Bille Woodruff
Screenwriters: Christina Welsh, Ernie Barbarash
Producer: Paul Hall
Executive producers: Zane, Charisse Nesbit
Director of photography: Joseph White
Editor: Bruce Annon
Production designer: Jeffrey Pratt Gordon
Costume designer: Lorraine Coppin
Composer: Aaron Zigman
Casting: Kim Taylor-Coleman

Rated R, 105 min.