Film

At Least Political Sex Drama ‘Zipper’ Boasts a Great Cast — and a Great Role for Lena Heady

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There’s this old Lifetime movie called Kate’s Secret, which stars Meredith Baxter Birney as a housewife with bulimia. It includes a ridiculously long take of Birney standing in a grocery aisle eating an entire box of Oreo cookies against an ominous score more appropriate to a bomb-defusing.

Zipper is a little bit like that, only instead of Oreos, prosecutor Sam’s (Patrick Wilson) vice is internet porn and escort sites. A happy but restless family man, Sam starts frequenting escort services seemingly for relief from the stress caused by the political operatives who are grooming him for elected office.

Throughout the rest of the film, which is populated with a way more impressive cast than a Lifetime movie — including Lena Headey, John Cho, Christopher McDonald, and Richard Dreyfuss — Sam’s anxiety tightens like a slipknot under harbingers like declined credit cards, spousal suspicion, and errant dick bumps. His “Oreos at the grocery store” moment comes after the FBI raids the escort service and, despairing over his impending arrest, Sam pays a rattled young woman to have sex with him in his car.

Wilson is a charismatic and underused actor, perfect here as a guy with a talent for convincing others of his virtue. Headey, as Sam’s wife, creates a surprisingly complex portrait of a woman shattered by her husband but hungry for higher social position. The film, directed by Mora Stephens, is as moralistic as an Evangelical tract from Chick Publications, but never about transactional sex between consenting adults — Sam’s marriage, career, and soul are jeopardized by his dishonesty.

Zipper

Directed by Mora Stephens

Alchemy

Opens August 28, Village East Cinema