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Bill (Andrew Duggan) and Bernadette (Joyce Van Patten) are a rich and
white Beverly Hills couple that has been married for way too long and that
is quarrelling all the time. Then Bone (Yaphet Koto), a poor black man,
shows up by their swimming pool and helps removing a rat. But Bone isn't
the nice poolboy Bill first thinks him to be but a criminal who wants to
rob Bill and Bernadette blind. Thing is, Bill and Bernadette aren't really
rich, as it now turns out, they have no cash at home, no money in the bank
no nothing ... heck, they might be even poorer than Bone. Until Bone finds
a savings account Bill tried to hide from Bernadette, and now Bone forces
Bill to go to the bank and withdraw the money, other wise he'll rape and
At first, Bill is really worried about his wife, but
when he's about to withdraw the money, he gets more worried about the cash
and figures not paying would be a good way of getting rid of his wife - so
he spends the afternoon with a half-crazy girl (Jeannie Berlin),
ultimately bedding her.
In the meantime, Bone tries to rape Bernadette,
who by that time is pretty drunk, but fails - so much so that she starts
comforting him, and they start having sex, non-forced sex. Then though,
Bernadette gets more and more upset about her two-timing husband, who left
her in the clutches of the assailant, and she and Bone make up a plan to
kill him, get the insurance money and lead a life in luxury.
Bernadette and Bone finally manage to corner Bill, she gets into such a
frenzy and kills Bill so violently that Bone turns away in disgust - and
vanishes into thin air, as if he was never there ...
judging from the synopsis, Bone is your typical grindhouse feature,
a cheap and sleazy thriller. But what writer/director Larry Cohen (whose
debut film that was) has made out of his premise is quite remarkable, a
mean satire on Beverly Hills lifestyles, on racial relations and racial
stereotypes, and on a weird thing called money that you obviously don't
need to be rich. But that doesn't make his film unnecessarily brain-heavy
let alone preachy, on the contrary, the film is as light-footed and
entertaining as it is intelligent, and despite its message (if you can
call it that) it works perfectly well in a thriller context. A remarkable