Directed by Peter M Cohen, starring Amanda Peet, Brian Van Holt, Jonathan Abrahams and Zorie Barber.

The US singer and writer Henry Rollins, in a wry observation on sexual telltales, once remarked that while he'd heard the boys talk to the boys he'd also heard the girls say the same things to the girls. And that's the starting point for Cohen's 'Whipped', a(nother) look at the rules of combat on New York's singles scene.

Peet plays Mia, a woman who breezes and bluffs her way into the lives of three men and sends their friendship and locker-room values haywire. There's Brad (Van Holt) the stockbroker jock, Zeke (Barber) the coffee shop intellectual and Jonathan (Abrahams), the sensitive one with the acoustic guitar - all little boys when they're together and even smaller ones when they're apart.

Each meets Mia in a different setting and then threatens to kill the other two on discovering that they've also fallen prey to her charms. But Mia has a novel way of deciding who's the catch: she'll date the three of them at the same time and then make up her mind.

An initially intriguing premise is destroyed by hamfisted direction, vile characters and a script that should have never made it off Cohen's desktop. Like 'Swingers' without a heart or 'Sex And The City' without a brain, 'Whipped' presents us with the age-old dilemma of friends versus soulmate but is so full of bile that it's difficult to look at the screen for longer than five minutes.

And if you're hoping for some humour amidst the bitterness don't: the actors' timing is so atrocious that you wonder whether they're reading the third hand gags from a sandwich board offscreen or just making them up as they go along.

It may be tough to find the right person, tougher still to admit the one you're with isn't, but that's no reason to sit and watch humanity reduced to a spiteful sweaty farce by a director who appears to have as much growing up to do as his characters.

The most criminal waste of film stock in quite some time.

Harry Guerin