Harris' film, by contrast, is gloriously rich and bizarre and deserves to be far better known. There's a multitude of things going on here, not the least of which is that the man (played by a fantastic and fascinating Zalman King) is not wealthy though he lives in splendor. He shares a mansion with two women, and one of these women appears to be the source of the material wealth. This implies that the male character is "kept" to start with, though he seems to have free access to anything he wants within reason. With almost no establishing exposition we are introduced to the hermetic lifestyle of these three characters, which is entirely devoted to living out fantasy role playing situations.
At first I thought King's central performance was listless and uninspired but it quickly became evident that this was precisely the way to play a man worn down by an excess of sensual abandon. And the approach he takes allows the moments when he is affected deeply to really resonate. There are some quietly devastating scenes in here of great emotional honesty. Of course mention must be made of Richard Pryor as well, who plays King's best friend, a strung out graffiti artist. This performance is wildly inchoate and almost impossible to describe adequately. I think the reason for this is similar to the reasoning behind King's opaque turn. These are simply not performances which emanate from any fixed psychological point. Part of that may be Harris' clear disinterest in psychological portraits as he seems to be after something else entirely.
Some Call It Loving also lends insight to King's own oft misperceived later career on the other side of the camera. In fact, I would go so far as to say it's key to an understanding of that career. Rather than being a simple series of soft core fantasias, it can be argued that his films are criminally misread--that they actually begin with a presumptive thematic given several steps past the conclusion of this earlier piece. In short, King's films are unapologetic melodramas which take for granted that fantasy and the re-imagining of self are deeply attractive prospects that offer their own potential for access to truth. This in no way should diminish our sincere empathy; the affect of his characters could not possibly be more pure or their investment in an imagined reality of expansive potentiality more complete. It's King's misfortune that what he is doing is unfashionable in a cynical, albeit "sophisticated" time.
This film foreshadows a number of others: one is Egoyan's Adjuster, which also includes a slowly unraveling couple completely devoted to rigorous role playing and unable to escape it; another is Lynch's Lost Highway, in which the main character is a jazz musician (as is the main character in SCIL) and the plot revolves around the fact that this character is profoundly frustrated by his ultimate inability to control the female figures in his life--oh, and it also includes Richard Pryor giving a similar type of performance. I thought briefly of Boxing Helena when I watched this as well but Some Call It Loving is infinitely superior as it understands what is presupposed by longing and the uncluttered sensibility that can be lost to imagination and particular forms of narrowly conceived idealism.
The tragedy in all these pictures is the ultimate inability to conceive of or accept any life outside the parameters of one rigorously imagined and absolutely controlled.