Chain Of Desire: Updating of Ophuls La Ronde

Writer-director Temistocles Lopez’s aptly titled “Chain of Desire” is yet another update of Max Ophuls’ classic film of 1950 “La Ronde,” a work that has continued to inspire many American and foreign directors, such as Alan Rudolph and Pedro Almodovar

As a modern urban saga alluding to the AIDS crisis, “Chain of Desire” is timely, but it’s also sharply uneven, containing, like most anthologies, good, mediocre, and bad episodes. The film’s tone is also varied, vacillating between the compelling and funny and the just tedious and silly.

The socio-sexual encounters in this film are among carpenters, painters, hustlers, virgins, showgirls, bored wives, TV interviewers, Euro-trash and Soho bohemians.

Malcolm McDowell and Grace Zabriskie have the best scenes, individually and jointly. One of the poignant episodes involves a threesome of anonymous partners performing for each other in their apartments’ windows a relevant statement about the dangers of real intercourse in the 1990s. In contrast, the confrontation between Seymour Cassel and Spanish actress Assumpta Serna lacks charm and conviction.

Unfortunately, the songs, sung by the likes of by Linda Fiorentino as a nightclub singer, are particularly weak.

“Chain of Desire” is intermittently enjoyable, and it’s worth watching from beginning to end, because a dark secret is revealed in the last reel.