Forbidden Homework
Vanguard // Unrated // $19.95 // January 28, 2003
Review by DVD Savant | posted April 10, 2004
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Graphical Version

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

This is going to be a very brief review. The film in question doesn't merit too much attention.

Tarea, or Homework was a cheeky exercise in one-camera, no-cuts voyeurism that tried to use the spirit of Sex, Lies and Videotape to come up with a commercial soft-core hit.

This semi-sequel repeats that formula but adds a depressingly lame twist. The original showed a female setting up a hidden video camera before greeting a male friend at her door. What followed was a mostly unbroken verité account of her seducing him, shown in only a few takes. The big "surprise" at the end was that the supposedly unknowing victim of the peeping prank wasn't so unknowing after all.

Forbidden Homework is a glossier retread. Instead of the interior of one cluttered apartment, we have an airy terrace deck apartment atop a building somewhere. A young man (Julian Pastor) prepares his snoop camera and then receives an older woman who thinks she's going to rehearse for a student film he's making. It's to be a possibly explicit sex scene. They talk. Soon it transpires that the student's other actor isn't going to show up, and that the young man has gotten the actress there because he wants to make love to her.

The games that are played here have pretensions to cinematic depth, but are really very cheap. The woman is far too predisposed to sex and it is presumed that all serious films have sex in them. The boy and woman fool around, and then she becomes angry and leaves. So far the movie has just used the camera gimmick to motivate an otherwise empty exercise - the only interest afoot is whether the pair are going to get it on, and whether she'll discover the deception.

The final revelation goes for a shallow shock that hasn't any bite. Just as in the previous film, the "victim" turns out to be an active participant in the charade, and the furtive film is revealed to be an attempt at a cinema school prizewinner for the young man. Then it's further revealed that the "actress" is in reality the boy's mother, once a performer and now helping him. We're supposed to be shocked at the incest theme. The boy apparently leaves home. It's all far too cheap to be taken seriously.

Director Jaime Humberto Hermosillo has seen Peeping Tom a few times too many and thinks a reflexive twist is all that's needed to create an artistic soft-core picture. Unlike the original Tarea, this picture doesn't use the gimmick of one camera without cuts, and so doesn't have that dubious curiosity hook. Tarea was said to have been a success in some Latin markets, but I don't know how this followup fared.

Vanguard's DVD of Forbidden Homework is a passable transfer of a just-okay print of the film, neither very colorful or sharp. Sound is adequate, and the subtitles are easy to read.



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