Owen Gleiberman
March 24, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Lifestyle

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
77 minutes
performer
Dant'e Amore, Nina Hartley, Robert McGinley
director
David Schisgall
distributor
Seventh Art
genre
Drama, Documentary

We gave it a B

The word ”swinger” no longer has much real-world application unless it’s attached to the word ”suburban.” There are two provocative ironies running through ”The Lifestyle,” David Schisgall’s sympathetic, open-eyed documentary portrait of a dozen or so middle-class spouse swappers.

The first, and most obvious, is that these genial neighborhood sybarites look, collectively, about as wild and sexy as a PTA meeting. Most of them are 50 or older, with wrinkles and sagging bodies. They’re the earnest, conventional types who got left out by the counterculture and then caught up with free love in their dens and rec rooms.

The more resonant irony, though, is that you’d have to go back to the jolly-jiggly nudist-camp films of the ’50s to find a vision of full-frontal sexuality as seemingly cleansed of sin and passion as the one celebrated here. Only in America could the prospect of an orgy hold all the enticing sensual danger of a backyard barbecue.

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