In between Michael Mann (Public Enemies) movies I always forget that I really like his work. If you could reach into one of his movies you would be able to feel something... a cold surface maybe, vibrations from a loud noise or a drop of sweat hitting you. He has a real gift for atmosphere and texture. And apparently he has a thing for sex in the shower since two of Miami Vice's three big sexual scenes take place there.
The first shower scene is basically relationship detail. The music is soothing and we're just observing the easy intimacy of co-workers/lovers Naomi Harris's Trudy and Jamie Foxx's Tubbs.
The second shower scene is curious. We've spent several minutes watching Gong Li's Isabella and Colin Farrell's Sonny fall in love/lust (same thing in the movies on account of time is sped up). They've just realized that their relationship is a bad idea. Or maybe they've just decided it's a good idea to vocalize that obvious conclusion. The shower scene following this announcement begins oddly though it follows the same structure as the first shower scene. The man is lost in thought or zoning out, as one sometimes does when the hot water is drumming into one's skin. The woman enters and the intimacy begins. Only this time the music moves into ominous chords as we see Gong Li approaching the shower. She's all blurry like killers are as they approach shower curtains.
She tears open the shower curtain in a rather violent edit. It's the cinematic language of threat. Michael Mann is trying to ratchet up the tension in this dangerous affair (they're violent business partners and Sonny is also an undercover cop and could bring her down) but there's something about the shower entrance that feels little cheap. Like a 'Boo! Gotcha... she's just there for more nookie' red herring.
It probably shouldn't have tipped that threatening. After all, what's threatening about showering with Gong Li or Colin Farrell? Unless you have a heart condition, jump in and grab the soap!
But I love that Michael Mann is determined to keep the audience off balance. This next bit works better. He's been pulling us into the relationship and then suddenly, he's pushing away. The lovers kiss and stare and Isabella whispers something into Sonny's ear. See, we can ogle. We can practically touch the wet tendrils of hair clinging to hot skin but we're not allowed any closer. We're no longer privy to this conversation.
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