Strictly Confidential (2024)

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Strictly Confidential (2024)

“Some things are supposed to stay hidden,” reads the tagline for “Strictly Confidential.” But honestly, they might have needed a bomb shelter to contain all the eye-popping revelations dropped in this utterly daft soap opera, which starts off like an erotic thriller-whodunit, then devolves into a series of Dynasty-style flashback-heavy expository monologues.

Damian Hurley’s directorial debut (with famous mum Elizabeth top-billed and producing) offers ample opportunities for hard-bodied young cast members to model clothing and approximate human feelings against the scenic backdrop of tax haven island nation Saint Kitts and Nevis. But what was probably a fun-in-the-Caribbean-sun shoot for the actors and crew wears a little heavily on audiences. Still, approached with the right spirit and perhaps enough libations — it could be highly entertaining if not exactly in the manner intended. Lionsgate is releasing to U.S. theaters, digital platforms, and VOD on April 5.

The tone of the fashion/travelogue ad is struck early by shots of bikini thesps floating in cerulean waters, writhing in arms of muscular shirtless men, etc., in an opening montage that doesn’t become less naff when we realize it’s all being dreamed by someone luxuriating in a requisite luxury bathtub surrounded by (no doubt scented) candles.

That someone is Mia (Georgia Lock), who here seems to wake from such vaguely troubling reveries every 20 minutes or so. She was formerly best friends with Rebecca (Lauren McQueen), who appears to have drowned herself last summer; but as that suicide’s reasons were unclear, her body was never found, and her dad died under murky circumstances himself just weeks earlier well, we’re still lacking “closure” here.

That closure is exactly what mom Lily (Hurley) and surviving older daughter Jemma (Genevieve Gaunt) hope to achieve by inviting back the usual suspects for another holiday, the first since disaster struck. Still traumatized, everyone dropped out of touch afterward; Mia even dumped their boyfriend James (Freddie Thorp). So it’s a reunion for her and aforementioned Will, Rebecca’s own ex-boyfriend (Max Parker), plus everyone’s friend Natasha (Pear Chiravara), who now works as an upscale stripper in a fancy club for some reason. (This is the kind of movie where hardly anyone seems to have any occupation or job skills whatsoever, though we can only assume they’re all trustafarians.)

Mia has many questions about what happened last summer. No one else wants to talk about it — not because of painful grief, as it turns out. Rather, they’ve got guilty secrets to hide. And hide them poorly: Wide-eyed Mia keeps walking in on people caught pashing with the “wrong” other party.

There are further flashbacks to other such pacifists, though the initial steamy-musk redolent of vintage “Skinemax” and Zalman King movies proves misleading. Eventually, this becomes less interested in soft-core suggestiveness than murder-mystery-adjacent plot twists as convoluted (and flashback-heavy) as they are increasingly silly.

By about two-thirds in, the levels of crap escalate to such an extent that they paradoxically start to work in the film’s favor. Somewhat scenic but thin gruel to begin with, it becomes the kind of movie where big plot reveals provoke even bigger laughs mainly thanks to tin-eared dialogue and some ill-advised performances. The histrionic burden falls most heavily on Lock, who doesn’t emerge entirely unscathed.

To be fair, these parts might confound even the most gifted interpreters as written and directed. Questions of how performers look in Gabbi Edmunds’ variously skimpy or low-cut costumes seem to have taken precedence over the plausibility of action or psychology; likewise, George Burt’s widescreen cinematography eschews any suspenseful atmospherics in favor of brightly bland showcasing handsome getaway decor (production designer Tom Downey) and attractive beachfront views. Michael Richard Plowman’s original score underscores that we’re watching a cheesy soap opera in B-movie drag.

Reportedly shot in just 18 days, “Strictly Confidential” is best regarded as on-the-job training for its junior Hurley star, who acquits himself decently under the circumstances. The picture has sufficient pro polish and passable entertainment value whether intended or not. However, assuming his scriptwriting was not similarly time-constricted this labor should definitely be left to others on future projects.

Also On Putlocker.

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