Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'.

(Center) Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'. Photo: Lionsgate.

In theaters, on digital and on demand on Friday 5th April, ‘Strictly Confidential’ marks the feature directorial debut of Damian Hurley, who to this point is probably best known for being the son of Elizabeth Hurley.

It’s an attempt to channel the sort of sultry thrillers that tantalized audiences in theaters and on the lurid covers of titles for rent in video stores in the 1980s and 1990s (kids, ask your parents). Unfortunately, while a few of those went on to become cult classics or mainstream crossover successes (such as ‘Basic Instinct’ or ‘Body Heat’), ‘Strictly Confidential’ would, even then, seem doomed to gather dust on an unloved shelf once the initial prurient fascination with Elizabeth Hurley snogging a young woman died down. Shock value is one thing, but this is largely wasted effort on that front.

Is ‘Strictly Confidential’ Hiding Some Fun Secrets?

Neither as racy as it might want to be, nor satisfying in other ways, ‘Strictly Confidential’ falls into the trap of coming across as shoving the “vanity” into “vanity project”. And not necessarily for the elder Hurley, who hardly garlands herself with glory in this performance. You may find yourself yearning for the days when she leaned into her humorous side for movies such as ‘Austin Powers’ or the ‘Bedazzled’ remake, as despite being written and directed by her son, this ranks as one of her worst movies. And she appeared in 2004’s ‘Method’.

There is also the whiff of the Nepo Baby about this one. Despite launching his career with short film ‘The Boy on the Beach’, the younger Hurley’s feature debut coming across as something that would not have been made were it not for his mother’s presence as a producer or in the cast, and certainly not without her agreeing to seduction scenes that mistake ridiculous camp for sexiness.

‘Strictly Confidential’: Script and Direction

Elizabeth Hurley and director Damian Hurley talk 'Strictly Confidential'.

(L to R) Elizabeth Hurley and director Damian Hurley talk 'Strictly Confidential'.

Written by the director seemingly after binging on the sort of movies mentioned above, ‘Strictly Confidential’s script falls far short of almost all of them. And that’s saying something. This is less a coherent story than a series of scenes where people say the subtext of the moment out loud or melodramatically arguing with each other.

No cliché is left uncovered and the “revelations” when they do arrive, are far from thrilling. When you have characters who supposedly know each other intimately repeating information they all should already know, it smacks of a filmmaker unsure that his audience is getting the message. Or how human beings talk.

Hurley’s directorial eye doesn’t fare much better either. While he and his filmmaking team have managed to pump out something where the shots are in focus and boom mikes aren’t spotted, there’s such a flat, daytime soap opera (or, er, pornography) style to the production that you find yourself distracted by the beautiful landscapes of the Caribbean, which is certainly more attractive than the locales that many first-time filmmakers must make do with in their grubby home town. Yet when you consider how many young auteurs have gone on to great things from humble beginnings, ‘Strictly Confidential’ rarely, if ever, shows the same potential. Having Hurley expand his filmography suggests threat, rather than promise.

‘Strictly Confidential’: Performances

Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'.

Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'. Photo: Lionsgate.

While Elizabeth Hurley is the big name draw here, no one should be expecting that name to trouble next year’s Oscar ballots. As Lily, mother to the late Rebecca and her bitter sister Jemma (Genevieve Gaunt), she’s called upon to do little other than look good, deliver a “sad” monologue about her late husband and daughter that segues into an admission that she’s leaned into cooking to help her cope with grief. It’s likely to inspire chuckles more than tears.

The less said about the “sexy” interactions between her character and the wannabe-seductive Natasha (Pear Chiravara), the better. It’s honestly more embarrassing for all involved and verges on parody.

Elsewhere, the cast for the most part isn’t called upon to do much more than look good in swimsuits and try to sell the stilted dialogue. Georgia Lock as Mia primarily spends her time standing on the beach, staring off into the ocean or arguing with the various hunks who try to hit on/comfort her.

Agi Nanjosi, as a therapist who factors into the movie later in the plot, has a little more nuance to offer, but even she is hamstrung by the basic dialogue the script throws at her. This is not a production you feel most of the ensemble will want to leave on their resumes.

‘Strictly Confidential’: Final Thoughts

Attractive backdrops aside, Hurley’s film doesn’t inspire much confidence. He’s gathered a group of good-looking people, some of whom can actually act, and made a film that is basic in the most depressing, disappointing way.

“Are some secrets meant to stay buried?” reads the final line of the synopsis for this turgid, moribund affair that confuses sleaze for plot development. There are definitely some movies that should be buried.

‘Strictly Confidential’ receives 4.5 out of 10 stars.

Strictly Confidential

"Some secrets are meant to stay buried."
R1 hr 28 minApr 5th, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What’s the Story of ‘Strictly Confidential’?

Haunted by the suicide of her best friend, Rebecca (Lauren McQueen) a year ago, Mia (Georgia Lock) Reluctantly, she accepts an invitation from Rebecca’s family to their home in the Caribbean, where her college friends are assembling to commemorate Rebecca on the anniversary of her death.

Once on the island, Mia is plagued by suspicions that there’s more to Rebecca’s death than meets the eye; gradually, she learns that both Rebecca’s family and each of the guests are harboring a deadly secret, all with direct ties to Rebecca.

Mia delves into Rebecca’s past, desperate to uncover what really happened that fateful day last summer. As more deceptions come to light, Mia finds herself drawn into a world of sex, duplicity and betrayal. Despite the dangers that lurk at every corner, Mia is relentless, determined to uncover the truth... But at what cost? Are some secrets meant to stay buried?

Who is in the Cast of 'Strictly Confidential'?

  • Elizabeth Hurley as Lily
  • Georgia Lock as Mia
  • Lauren McQueen as Rebecca
  • Freddie Thorp as James
  • Genevieve Gaunt as Jemma
  • Pear Chiravara as Natasha
  • Max Parker as Will

Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'.

Elizabeth Hurley in 'Strictly Confidential'. Photo: Lionsgate.

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