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Acts Of Love Review

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A Texas schoolteacher (Dennis Hopper) has a liberating fling with a 17-year-old pupil.

★★★★★

When a crusty old school teacher (Hopper) gets down to some serious horseplay in his hayloft with Catherine, one of his 17-year-old pupils (Locane), it awakens long dormant feelings of passion. Quite apart from the obvious appeal of a young blonde throwing herself at his feet, the affair makes him realise just how set in his ways he has become and gives his long term relationship with his dowdy-but-dutiful girlfriend Rosealee (Irving) a much needed boost in the bedroom department. But every silver lining has a cloud, as he finds out when his sexually demanding young filly blows their cover in the less than liberally-minded midwest farming community. Not only does Rosealee have to cope with the betrayal but Catherine's father is far from impressed with her extra-curricular activities.

Despite having more than its fair share of romping, including a full frontal Hopper, this is more an exercise in fleshing out the male menopause than a titillating tale of sexual misdeeds. In their own Chekhovian ways, the protagonists are sad, hollow shells living out their days without seeing what they have become.

Hopper conveys the smouldering hunger and subsequent guilt with some style, obviously relishing not having to play a psychopath for once. The scenes with his dying mum, for example, set the tone for a richly textured, if at times laboured, examination of mortality and the acceptable limits of lust.

What lets Acts Of Love down, however, are its implausibility and director Barreto's tendency to allow the pace to drag. But fortunately, these faults are overcome.

Wins out through refreshing performances and a vibrant irresistible charm.