Not unlike the hedonistic characters in quick redemptive turnaround at the center of this corporate erotic thriller, The Human Contract is intent on having its cake and eating it too. Which is to say that there’s plenty of ongoing frisky hot sex and assorted libidinous depravity, before a decidedly incongruous cautionary family values proviso kicks in.
The filmmaking debut of writer/director Jada Pinkett Smith, The Human Contract intimates through its title, the destructive contradictions that loom between emotional integrity and the mandates of the ruthless corporate world. And likely based on Smith’s own negative observations hanging out in Hollywood.
Jason Clarke is Julian, an LA hustler on the rise among a band of aggressive, hard drinking corporate hotshots. When he’s handed a potential billion dollar account from a family values oriented client, Julian is ordered by the company to ditch his pending divorce for now and maintain a straitlaced veneer, at least until the signatures are clearly in place on all necessary dotted lines.
But Julian just can’t seem to contain his erotic urges or inclinations towards rough sex for long, as the kind of guy who chases women with just about the same frenzy he chases accounts. And he is soon stumbling into one scandal after another. The primary catalyst for his sudden round of unrelenting bad luck is Michael (Paz Vega), an exotic vamp with kinky interactive obsessions whom he meets by chance at a bar, while cooling his heels waiting for a date he suddenly could care less about.
And when Julian next encounters Michael on the street one night and follows her to an outdoor screening of an old Frankenstein movie in a cemetery, I kid you not, there’s no turning back for this designer suit stud and his combo self-mutilating/voyeuristic hottie with a male name that suggests, uh oh, abnormal dangerously predatory female desire. Likewise set up as a prop for the usual bad mommy demonization on screen, though it’s never clear exactly why, is Julian’s resented shrewish suicidal single mother (Joanna Cassidy) who looks nothing like him. While his sister, played by Jada, resembles him even less, mix ‘n match elephants in the room which are never explained an iota.
Though The Human Contract is laced with a lush, foreboding sense of surroundings, this is quite a peculiar story to be penned by a woman, so focused, does the film appear, on blaming all the woes of men – and some women too – on females. And with such excessively detailed too much information hot sex on the menu and so little psychological insight going on above character collarbones, that there’s little to be gleaned here about contracts, human and otherwise.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Features: Commentary with Writer/Director Jada Pinkett Smith and Cinematographer Darren Genet; Featurettes: The Human Experience Making of Featurette; The Roll of Film: Cast discussing their definition of the term Human Contract.