Throwback Thirty – Masquerade (1988)

220px-masquerade5_star_rating_system_2_and_a_half_stars Gee there seem to be a lot of long films from the year I was born. Since starting this project, I have discovered something about myself. I have no problem is sitting in front of Netflix and binge-watching a load of 45 minute episodes of a TV show in one go but ask me to commit to a film longer than 90 minutes and all of a sudden I have loads of stuff I need to be doing. I am a ridiculous human being. But I’ve also had another very tiring week at work so the idea of sitting down to watch all 2+ hours of Rain Man just didn’t appeal. So I’ve been desperately searching for easy to consume films from 1988 that I can watch without much drama. It is a search that moved me in the direction of a film that wasn’t even a part of my original TBT film jar. Of course, this might mean that I’m breaking some sort of rule but I’m willing to do that for 1980s Rob Lowe. We’ve all seen him ‘playing’ saxophone in St Elmo’s Fire. We all know how sexy he is. Although, 1988 Rob Lowe is also the Rob Lowe who was dropped in the middle of a sex scandal but we’ll forget about that. He’s been in Parks and Rec since then: if we can’y say all is forgiven now then when can we?


The film in question is Masquerade, which is something I’d never seen before this week. Having finally seen it, I can’t say my life was really lacking before but I also can’t say it’s been horribly ruined afterwards. It is one of those sexy 80s crime thrillers that tries really hard to stand out by throwing everything it can at it. This one even has boats. It’s set in the Hamptons where people with money have seedy affairs with penniless boat captain and people get murdered and stuff. Typical 80s, right?

Masquerade is the story of a newly graduated orphan, Olivia Lawrence (Meg Tilly) after she moves back to her mother’s mansion from college. Her father died when she was young and her mother has recently passed away. Olivia is left living with her mother’s last husband, Tony Gateworth (John Glover) and she makes no attempt to hide her contempt for him. Thankfully, the arrival of boat captain Tim Whalen (Rob Lowe) provides Olivia with something to look forward to and the pair fall in love. Until a terrible accident occurs and forces Olivia to cover up for Tim. When more accidents start happening it looks likely that these weren’t simply terrible coincidences.

So much of Masquerade relies on the shock twists that are revealed throughout the plot that it is difficult trying to sum it up. But, without giving too much away, this is a crime thriller that revolves around sex, money, and sailing. Basically, nobody is who they say they are and everyone should be treated with some caution. After all, this is the Hamptons where everyone is having an affair or trying to set up some sort of dodgy deal. This is a crime thriller that places the emphasis on thrill. The actual details of the crime are a bit hazy and overly complicated but there is enough to sink your teeth into that you can easily distract from that fact.

Yes, the plot is quite thin on the ground and the characters aren’t developed but there is a lot of Rob Lowe’s naked arse in there. So, every cloud and all that. I wouldn’t say that Masquerade is the worst of even the silliest film I’ve watched from 1988 but I also wouldn’t say it was in any way clever. You get the sense that it thinks it’s being really sneaky when, in actual fact, the twists are painfully obvious. Still, not every journey is about the destination. It’s about getting there. And it’s not as if there isn’t anything entertaining about this film. It’s super melodramatic and over-the-top. It’s fun… even though it probably isn’t meant to be. Provided you go into this hoping for something trashy and a bit shit, then I couldn’t recommend it more. If you want a proper, deep psychological drama then I’d pick something Scandinavian instead.

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