"Always is boring and lonely and painful and scary."
This movie and I have history.
About half a decade ago, when I was refining my porn tastes, I searched out this film. I first saw it, fittingly, when I was on a trip to Arizona. It left me feeling...confused.
The first shot of Wasteland begins with Anna, played by Lily Carter, walking down a gritty walkway, bathed in shades of black and red. Lily Carter moves in a way of such hypnotized carelessness that the scene almost looks like it was shot in reverse then played backward. There's something slightly off about it, in a good way.
From there we cut to the morning before. Anna is on a trip from Arizona to LA, visiting her childhood friend Jacky, a promiscuous party girl whom Anna seems to have romantic feelings for. They go out on the town and Anna sneakily watches Jacky fuck a man in a bathroom stall. There's a great mix of disgust, curiosity, hurt and lust in her dark eyes as Jacky unabashedly enjoys herself mere inches away.
The girls walk down the street and Jacky parlays a ride home for a blowjob. Tired of waiting, Anna begs to go home when Jacky coaxes Anna into pleasuring the man while Jacky fingers Anna from behind. The scene ends in a perfect cloud of shame for Anna as she lets the man's come freefall from her tongue in gooey strands.
The two women get back to Jacky's and they have passionate sex. Even though it's porn, there's something about the redness of Lily Carter's skin that lends an authenticity to the woman on women scenes between the two Lilys.
They drink, they dance, they swim, they fuck, they talk. They share a quick, one night romance without saying "I love you". Moments of this movie lend themselves to greatness, while others simply crash and burn.
In one scene, Jacky opens up to Anna and Anna offers comfort but Jacky freaks out in the most out of nowhere way. She yells at Anna for nothing other than because this is the point in a screenplay where a conflict should take place. It is the most "written" piece of writing since Nomi Malone hitting a car with her hand then throwing up in Showgirls.
It's awkward and leads into the second most porny scene in the film.
Anna and Jacky remember a camping trip where Jacky fucked a boy Anna liked, while Anna secretly watched. When I saw this movie the first time, I was a little baffled because, as I said, this was the most porny scene in the movie up until this point. Up until now I had expected Wasteland to be like an artsy indie movie, something like Blue is the Warmest Colour or Bound or Below Her Mouth and I feel the trailers could be blamed for that.
After that, Lily Carter does her best to carry a monologue about how Anna is lonely and alone and has a tragic past and-- and this is important-- once her grandma dies, Anna will be all alone, except for Jacky. Jacky is the only thing that makes her feel human.
The two reach an understanding, and, in a fun scene that is way too short, get ready to go to a fetish club where Jacky works. They dress in skin-tight latex dresses and oil them up, rubbing their hands over each other's body in a scene that did I mention was way too short? That scene could have used a more leering camera, honestly.
They go to the club and Anna is seduced by a woman, forced into pleasure submission while listening to women pleasure men.
Anna is sent down the hall and we're once more shown that otherworldly, uncanny valley sequence of Anna in red, trance-walking along.
And here is where the movie goes off the rails for me.
We've established that Anna is button down, not very sexually adventurous. I feel that Anna doesn't have the knowledge of consensual non-consent, or safe-words to be okay with going down this rabbit hole. I don't feel she willingly descended down into the depth of depravity so much as she didn't have a choice.
Anna follows a woman, is slapped, choked, her mouth spat into, gagged, and then shoved into a room with dozens of men who are using Jacky like a spunk-sock. Then they pass Anna around like the spunk-sock's twin. Eventually, while being choked until purple in the face, slapped, spanked, pissed on, triple penetrated, the girls lock eyes and kiss. They're bukkake'd then kiss again with come-covered faces.
Cleaned up and resting in the car, Jacky says to Anna:"Only you can understand..."
Anna awakes in Jacky's bed, to a phone call informing her that her grandmother died last night. She leaves for the train station without saying goodbye.
Sometimes when I watch porn, I find myself re-writing or re-editing it. Imagine, if you will, if Anna's grandmother died after Anna's monologue about being alone. She receives the phone call, then goes out and surrenders her worth to the depravity. Then the movie ends with Jacky telling her "Only you can understand...."
Hard cut to black.
WASTELAND appears on the screen.
I see what the movie was going for, I do. Anna surrendered, and was punished, but that doesn't follow through with Anna's story arc nearly as coherently and as satisfying as if she was true to her fears and would follow Jacky to the depths of sin just to feel something.
While some parts of the film's acting were stilted and awkward, the actual chemistry between the two Lilys was at times, electric. There's an ease to some of their more casual scenes and when it works, it really works.
This movie tries. It really, really does. It wants to be a serious film and strives toward lofty goals. It's more than a basic porno and it deserves all the recognition for that. I just find it has some really deep story flaws that prevent me from giving it a higher grade.
For what it's worth, it's better than I remember.
LILITH'S SCORE: 3/5
NEXT TIME: Lilith watches girls and boys prance around in Silver Shoes.