The Pleasure Principle (1991

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A Woody Allenesque jaunt through single life in 90s London, accompanying bed-hopping journalist Dick (Firth) on his misadventures with the four members of the opposite sex he tries to juggle in his oh-so-hectic life.


Presented as the sort of non-committal cuddly rake women apparently find irresistible, we trawl through Dick's erot­ic antics with eccentric neuro-surgeon Judith (Gwynne) who brings up the dreaded c-word, driving him into the arms of mousy divorcee Sammy (Baxter) and, later, Judith's friend Charlotte (Lysette Anthony). With Dick's lesbian ex-wife Anne (Sara Mair-Thomas) tut-tutting in the background, the putty-faced Lothario's comeuppance is always just around the corner.

As a sort of whimsical comedy about deception and commitment, the proceed­ings move at a snappy pace, engrossing enough in the character's quirks and inse­curities. And, despite occasional comedic misfires, Cohen shows a comprehensive­ly intelligent hand in both the script and direction.

In attempting, however, to instil political statements about the nature of relationships into the mix, Cohen sends out very muddled signals, with the self-proclaimed feminists, Judith and Anne, getting the very short end of the stick.

Ultimately, if the political commentary doesn't rock the boat too much, the appeal of The Pleasure Principle rests largely on how the audience will take to Firth, most likely dividing straight down the line marked gender.