Presumably shot back to back with his deservedly multi-award-winning adult industry exposé of sorts “Fade To Black”, taking into account production dates and shared cast members, Paul Thomas’ intriguingly titled :If You Only Knew” plays like a hidden gem B side to that particular chart buster. What’s immediately apparent is the radical difference in tone, “Fade’s” searing intensity and surprising suspense making way for a wistful melancholy courtesy of a thoughtful script by talented David Stanley, who would really hit his stride as both writer and director of “Pretty Girl” a few years later. This is couples porn done right, with strong, believable characters facing problems the average Joe or Jill Public can relate to and having the kind of sex most married folks probably wished they still had. Just joking ! A former adult film performer himself, dating back to when the genre’s Golden Age was in full bloom, as well as a legit actor (he played Peter in Norman Jewison’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” and, er, the truck driver who gives Laura Gemser a ride in more ways than one in the opening sequence of Joe d’Amato’s “Emanuelle Around the World” !), P.T. once again extracts the type of thespian achievements proving that porno people can do a heck of a lot more than just flex their pleasure parts.
Health-obsessed architect Bill (Joey Ray) and his pretty spouse Fay (Taylor Hayes) are a seemingly happier than they actually are suburban couple. Between his morning run and the rush to get to work, he’s nagging his wife for breakfast, scolding her for the playful addition of a diet-destroying donut. She on the other hand is trying to break the news to him that there may be an addition of a different kind to their lives in the foreseeable future in the shape of a newly born baby. It’s clear from the outset that these two have lost the will or capacity to communicate with each other. The unannounced arrival of Jerry (Dale DaBone), a joint friend from the past, causes some much-needed upheaval in their rocky relationship. As the saying goes, before things can get better, they will have to get a lot worse. Flashing back to several years earlier, the story fills in the gaps as to why these people behave the way they do. In the days prior to the big commitment known as matrimony, Bill and Jerry were hell-raising best buddies, serving food and washing dishes at a greasy spoon (spot P.T.’s side-splitting cameo as the ill-tempered Yiddish chef), sharing an occasional hooker like blonde, naturally busty Adajja, though they never let any girl close enough to come between them in any way other than the most literal sense. That is until Bill gets the hots for sweetly seductive Vanessa (ravishing Russian brunette Claudia Adkins, star of Dino Ninn’s IN YOUR FACE) and declares her the love of his life. Fate comes by way of Fay (the name’s no coincidence), a small town girl stripped of all her worldly goods upon arrival in the big bad city, who latches onto the available Jerry first for support though a misunderstanding causes the insecure Vanessa to believe she’s moving in on her man instead. Drama ensues and suddenly the reasons for Bill’s present day suppressed resentment of his wife become painfully clear. Can Fay and Bill work out their problems, which further come to include an aborted attempt at making out with cocktail waitress Felicia Fox and a consummated version of same with dusky damsel Chelsea (then still billed as Ebony) Sinclair ? Will Jerry’s presence pull them all together or drive them forever apart ? Watch and find out.
The movie’s low key, no frills appearance may cause many to dismiss it. That would be their loss as this effective little sleeper deals with a number of topics relevant to most people’s daily lives but rarely broached in adult like the stress an unborn child can put on a relationship and the refuge from and stubborn refusal of adulthood represented by close male – though in no way homosexually tinged – friendships. P.T. is surely the single current carnal filmmaker to deal with these subjects with any degree of seriousness, and indeed probably the only one who cares to do so, and his cooperation with the idiosyncratic Stanley yields a couple of pleasingly off-beat, David Lynch style surreal touches such as the recurring character of the stumbling paper boy or the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it present day appearance of the tragic Vanessa during Bill’s early morning jog. These subtly mind-bending disruptions of the film’s reality are beautifully supported by the understated eeriness of the soundtrack by Miles Long and Tommy Ganz. If this movie has one major failing, it’s perhaps that it’s a bit too pre-occupied with making the viewer think rather than getting him all hot and bothered with the sex suffering a tad as a result. Hayes’ heartfelt sadness detracts somewhat from the heat generated by her scenes with both male leads. It seems rather cruelly ironic then, given their importance as characters, that both Ray and DaBone have hotter scenes with other women. Ray rocks hard with the highly uninhibited Adkins, who makes up for uncertain line readings with sizzling front and back action, and DaBone really works the fine Fox who possesses a succulent frame untouched by plastic surgeons, just like all of the actresses here, a fact rare enough these days that it deserves mentioning.