Love Ranch – Helen Mirren deserves better

I had great hopes for Love Ranch, a film that takes place in a brothel, starring the beautiful, talented, and sensual 65-year-old Helen Mirren as the madam. Hurray, I thought, Mirren is playing a sexy, older woman. I heard that her character had steamy sex with a man decades younger — go, Helen!
The film started slowly — plodded, actually, though I laughed and applauded when Mirren’s character’s husband, played by Joe Pesci, challenged her, “Who do you think you are, the Queen of England?” Mirren is beautiful despite mostly conservative clothing and smudged lipstick, and the closeups of wrinkles made me happy that yes, finally, an older woman is being celebrated without trying to hide her age.
The film is based on a true story about the first legal brothel in Reno, Nevada. The script isn’t worthy of Mirren. It’s hackneyed, predictable, and not all that interesting. In fact, I have the movie on “pause” right now, minutes from the end, dreading the obvious finale.
There is one brief but steamy sex scene, all too short (hey, she’s an older woman — let’s take our time!), which seems thrown in so that people would be shocked by the show of passion between a young Argentine boxer (actor Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and a woman more than twice his age. Peris-Mencheta didn’t strike me as sexy or appealing, and she deserved more — both as a sensual woman and as an actress.
It’s astonishing to me that the director, Taylor Hackford, is Mirren’s husband. That’s likely the reason she agreed to do Love Ranch. It certainly wasn’t the flaccid script.
See a trailer here. The film is available from Netflix.

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