The Principles of Lust poster

“Without comparison, everything loses its meaning.”


For a critic, those words — repeated twice — ring loudly: no art can be reviewed in isolation. Yet there is a clear danger in applying this mantra to life and relationships, as Paul finds himself encouraged to do by his new friend Billy. At first Billy appears to be pure id and Marc Warren portrays him as animalistic, revelling in the brutality of blood-soaked boxing children, but without the charm of Fight Club‘s Tyler Durden. As a result, whilst Paul’s fascination is understandable, his continuous return to Billy’s orbit is not, since this is not enjoyable hedonism. Fittingly, like Shame, the film’s frequent nudity tends to be shot either clinically or in hurried urgency, rather than to arouse. Sienna Guillroy provides notable depth to Paul’s conflicted girlfriend, who could easily have been a one-note supporting character. Ultimately, like Paul, this lo-fi British drama struggles to express itself, making its foray into vice and anachronistic portrayal of an idle writer on the dole feel exploitative rather than revealing any greater truth.