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The Center of the World

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Director  Wayne Wang
Initial DVD release  December 18, 2001
Country  United States
5.9/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama, Romance
Language  English
The Center of the World movie poster

Release date  April 19, 2001 (2001-04-19)
Writer  Wayne Wang (story), Miranda July (story), Paul Auster (story), Siri Hustvedt (story), Ellen Benjamin Wong (screenplay)
Screenplay  Miranda July, Ellen Benjamin Wong
Cast  Shane Edelman (Porter), Peter Sarsgaard (Richard Longman), Molly Parker (Florence), Karry Brown (Lap Dancer), Alisha Klass (Pandora Stripper), Mel Gorham (Roxanne)
Similar movies  Irreversible, Jamon Jamon, The Lover, All Ladies Do It, Interstellar, The Voyeur

The Center of the World is an American film directed by Wayne Wang, which was digitally shot and released in 2001. It stars Peter Sarsgaard as a Dot-com millionaire who hires a drummer/stripper (Molly Parker) to stay with him in Las Vegas for three days for US$10,000. The film was screened out of competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.


The Center of the World movie scenes

The center of the world trailer


The Center of the World movie scenes

A couple checks into a suite in Las Vegas. In flashbacks we see that he's a computer whiz on the verge of becoming a millionaire (Peter Sarsgaard), she's a lap dancer at a club (Molly Parker). He's depressed, withdrawing from work, missing meetings with investors. He wants a connection, so he offers her $10,000 to spend three nights with him in Vegas, and she accepts with conditions: four hours per night of erotic play, and no penetration. During the days in Vegas, they get to know each other, have fun, meet a friend of hers, casino dealer Jerri (Carla Gugino); at night, at least after the first night, things seem to get complicated. When the three days are over, the stripper makes it clear that she was only there for the money and that the man she spent the time with was just a client. Upset that the feelings he had weren't mutual he then rapes her, which she makes no attempt to stop. She then masturbates for him, achieving orgasm, after saying "you want to see real? I'll show you real." The next day he returns home heartbroken. The movie ends with his return to the strip club to see the woman he fell in love with again. She greets him fondly but interacts with him the way she did when they first met, as a stripper and a client ordering a lap dance.


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Cast notes
  • Internet executive Jason Calacanis consulted on, and appeared in, the film.
  • Reception

    The film opened to mixed reviews, and has been compared to movies with similar "hooker in love" storylines such as Exotica and Pretty Woman. The Center of the World is more explicit than those films, containing both female and male full frontal nudity, as well as a penetration shot of a lollipop in a vagina.

    Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a critic score of 34% and an audience score of 41%.

    The film's title may be an allusion to Courbet's L'Origine du monde.

    Censorship Controversy

    A Cincinnati theater owner attracted media attention after allegedly ordering a member of his staff to edit a five-second scene from the film a day before its release. According to Cincinnati CityBeat, Esquire Theater owner Gary Goldman had instructed his theater manager and projectionist to cut the scene, in which a female stripper inserts a lollipop into her vagina.


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