According to the Japanese poster, 9½ Weeks is titled as such because each week is about different emotional states – seduction, temptation, impulse, excitement, fear, confusion, submission, rage and on the edge.
Personally, I think that the writers should have ditched the half and have each week reflect the nine circles of Hell as portrayed in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno (the first part of his 14-levelled poem titled Divine Comedy).
Despite the fact that the movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Ingeborg Day (whose gender can be ascertained by the fact that the alias was Elizabeth McNeill), changes could still be made because adaptations tend to play it loose.
It’s a shame that this didn’t happen because the 1986 cult classic could have been seen as a precursor to another eighties Mickey Rourke classic which had an equally Hellbound theme – Angel Heart (1987).
The narrative structure of Adrian Lyne’s film could easily be divided into nine parts. Given that Roger Corman believes that a film should be no longer than 90 minutes, each reel could easily depict limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery.
Treated as a play, Act I would have been about establishing the mundanity of jobs which outsiders see nothing but profundity. Act II would be where the Wall Street arbitrageur lusts after the female art gallery employee when his friends attend an exhibition.
Act III would be about him taking her to dinner before taking her to his hotel room where he feeds in a sexual manner while she’s blindfolded.
Act IV is where he rewards her threshold with a gold watch during a lunch meeting. During the weekend as she’s partying with friends, they discuss the luxuries of marrying a businessman.
Act V takes place in his apartment where he seems friendly at first until halfway through intercourse where he decides that the time is right for a discourse.
He angrily confronts her by sardonically joking that his gold watch made her a gold digger. She finds out that he was stalking her during that weekend. He sadistically subjects her to some BDSM. He manipulates her by rewarding her threshold by giving her an expensive dress and a bag of cosmetics to baptise the stench of being a rape victim.
Act VI is when she tries to make sense of her sexual assault by consulting with a priest who she often makes confessions to but hasn’t disclosed any of her sexual encounters until this week. She is disillusioned with his lack of knowledge on sexual abuse despite himself being a former psychology student who specialized in therapy. When she inquires about pursuing legal action against her former lover, she is all the more disheartened when she finds out that the priest has ties to a lawyer who is an affiliate of the rapist. When she gets home, she burns her bible and her photographs pertaining to her Catholic girl school past.
Act VII takes a turn for the worst. After her usual Friday night with friends, she is kidnapped by her ex and a group of men who are his friends. Her tormentors are thrill seekers who like to explore sexual activities in public places. The remaining weekend becomes an exercise in how to make a rape victim feel masochistic by balancing pain with dizzying heights of pleasure. After failed attempts to make her experience Stockholm syndrome, they agree in subjecting her to creative levels of sexual violence which fall short of mutilation.
Act VIII marks the beginning of a rousing reel where her friends successfully manage to get him done for fraud by concocting a scheme involving personal detective work and hiring a private detective to go the extra mile, since he would prove to be unrecognizable to his target.
Act XI is a stab in the back moment. The priest betrays her trust by revealing that he is the businessman’s godfather. He kidnaps her at gunpoint and takes her to his church. She is robbed of her heterosexual dignity when the priest gets her former school bully to molest her. The bully has strength in numbers when her lesbian friends aid her in the ultimate act of bullying. Adding to the surreal nature of the torment is that they are dressed as nuns. Molestation in a delirious variety of ways drives the victim to a catatonic state which is only broken when she is subjected to mutilation preluding murder.