Peter Five Eight | Do They Really Think People Want to See Spacey And De Mornay Have Sex?

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Kevin Spacey picture. Since the allegations came out in 2017 that the previously much-loved, universally acclaimed actor, theatre director and singer had unhealthy interests in young men, his career has been in tatters. Replaced by the infinitely more talented and charismatic Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, fired from House of Cards, his Netflix Gore Vidal biopic destined to never see the light of day and Billionaire Boys’ Club dumped in a few cinemas and then VOD hell, he has spent a few years in limbo. But now legally cleared of all the dreadful things, and despite the strange series of coincidences that have plagued him, Spacey’s back. Kind of. Aside from those weird Christmas videos that became as much a Christmas tradition as the Late Late Toy Show and booing the Queen, in the last two years, he’s made some progress with his career. In true ‘slumming American actor’, he appeared in a small role in an Italian film, Franco Nero’s vanity project L’uomo che disegnò Dio (2022). And he has a voice only role in a no-budget British thriller, Control (2023). But this, director Michael Zaiko Hall’s Peter Five Eight, is his supposed comeback. 

So, you’d think, with the showbiz world desperately calling for Spacey to be reinstated, he’d be in something that could give him a second chance, rehabilitate his career, and convince audiences that he is a good man? Or rather would he be in something so low-rent, so chintzy and so cruddy that it feels that if he does continue to act, he’ll be doing nothing but straight-to-streaming low rent grot…

Well, have I got a surprise for you? Despite the likes of Stephen Fry and Sharon Stone saying that he should be welcome back, it seems that all those years in the wilderness have probably blunted Spacey’s talent.

Beginning with scenic views of the Californian countryside and 50s-style music and fonts, like a kind of deranged melding of Douglas Sirk and Hitchcock, you’d think, ‘oh, this is at least trying to be a classy period piece?’ So, when we see that it is set in a present day small town rural California idyll, we’re like, ‘Oh, they didn’t have the budget’. We see modern cars, but our heroine, Sam (Jet Jandreau) and other characters dress like it’s the 50s.

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It hypes up the return of Kev, as he exits a car smoking a fag, dressed entirely in black (including wig), fedora over his head. The music swells up, like he’s a big bad, the film telling us ‘Yeah, he’s back.’ The dialogue is terrible. ‘Listen here, you local yokel’. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ He is given long, meandering monologues told in a near-monotone that hint at some kind of near-apocalyptic setting. It also plays Kevin’s notoriety up, having him tell us that he ‘is doomed to play the villain’s part’ and ‘Cigarettes are killers that travel in packs’. It becomes apparent that either Kevin Spacey’s years out of work have sapped him of his talent, or that the producers of this film didn’t want the talent. They just wanted the name, to ride his notoriety. It’s like one of those low-rent British gangster films starring ‘alleged crook’ Dave Courtney. 

Now chunkier and heaving his body around like a galleon turning in the opposite direction, Spacey seems to lack something. That voice has become stuck on Frank Underwood mode, monotonously bellowing in a Foghorn Leghorn-esque Southern drawl, as if he doesn’t really care what he’s saying. The sad truth is, Kevin Spacey is near-unwatchable as an actor. He’s even worse than Mark Rylance. He has no screen presence, no sign of versatility, none of that charisma that he once may have had. 

The actual film is godawful. Some mumpsy about estate agent Sam (Jandreau, a pretty but vapid performer) who is a violent alcoholic, while her older cohort played by Rebecca De Mornay (a world away from Risky Business and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle) is being stalked/unconvincingly romanced by mystery man Peter (Spacey), who is an agent of a secret organisation headed by Jake Weber (Medium, Dawn of the Dead). There’s not much to say. The unique selling point of the film is Spacey. This is a gimmick film, and the gimmick film is that it has Spacey. It’s no different to when sexploitation films would cast Playboy playmates. 

If any film that it resembles, it’s Michael Flatley’s Blackbird. Spacey and Michael Flatley wear similar hats. Both are set in the present day, and yet have a 50s vibe. And yet it is filled with modern hi-tech stuff that it thinks is impressive but could be bought in a Curry’s.  It has supposedly Hitchcockian chases that end up looking like an episode of Chucklevision. 

Despite this, it seems to be an ego project not for Spacey, but for star/producer Jet Jandreau, who not only acts, produces but sings. The main theme of this film is ‘We’ll Meet Again’. Yes, as in Vera Lynn. I suppose this is to help the retro vibe, but instead it just feels so out of place. Jandreau’s German accent doesn’t help her flat line delivery, and she doesn’t have much charisma. But she is more likeable than Spacey, and more interested in the film than De Mornay. 

Jandreau clearly is in charge of the film, despite not being the director. However, you wonder why they made this film. Do they really think people want to see Spacey and De Mornay have sex? The more the film goes on, the worse it seems. Instead of making you think, ‘We’ve missed Spacey’, it makes you think, ‘How did this guy ever have a career?’

Peter Five Eight is out now on VOD

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