An erotic drama cut from the same cloth as Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries where a woman's sexual rediscovery turns into tragedy, Zandalee features the stunning Erika Anderson in the titular role - a New Orleans woman stuck in a hum-drum marriage with Thierry, a former poet turned white collar businessman (played by co-producer Judge Reinhold who is cast way against type).
When Thierry's old school buddy, a wild painter named Johnny, returns to New Orleans to work for Thierry, Johnny immediately sets his sites on acquiring Zandalee's affections. Nicolas Cage, sporting what has to be some of the worst facial hair in cinematic history, is Johnny and he infuses the character with ego, hubris and slime - channeling that ultimate Cage muse: Elvis. Johnhy, like Mickey Rourke's character in 91/2 Weeks is a manipulative, controlling sort and his affair with Zandalee soon turns passionate and destructive.
Played against the steam and sexiness of Bourbon Street, Zandalee also gives off a sense of decay, the old weather and age stained buildings showing not only the charms so many are accustomed to, but also a darkness that mirrors Zandalee's journey into Johnny's world of turmoil. The city's humid, hazy atmosphere is an intrinsic part of the movie, and credit must be given to director Sam Pillsbury for capturing it so vividly. Also impressive is the supporting cast, boasting a couple "before they were known" stars like Joe Pantoliano, Marisa Tomei and Steve Buscemi who add even more quirkiness to a movie already bursting at the seems with it.
Yet it's Erika Anderson who impresses most as conflicted, selfish Zandalee and her fearless performance here shows her not only baring herself naked physically (which she does quite a bit), but also emotionally. Cage and yes, Reinhold, here aren't lightweights to act opposite - they're bringing an "A-Game", and their intensity is reflected back by Anderson's willowy flower that's caught in an emotional hurricane. Voyeurs will come to Zandalee to see the actress naked and simulating some pretty raw, intense love scenes. But it's likely all will see a lot more in this actress's honest portrayal.