2016 Nominated for Best Narrative film, Hollywood Film Festival

Jefery Levy’s 2015 film stars David Arquette and Bai Ling as Jack and Ida, a disillusioned Los Angeles based married couple, whose twisted sexual relationship is told exclusively through their own private journal entries.

“The Key” is a visually stunning exploration of obsession, desperation, and lust; a deeply erotic, uncompromising, visually adventurous story of a marriage.


THE KEY is a Jefery Levy cinematic tour de force, a visually stunning and immersive erotic tale with stellar performances by David Arquette and Bai Ling.

“The Key is a beautiful, artistic, erotic, outside-the-box movie from filmmaker Jefery Levy.”
– Alan Ng

“Seldom is the pain/beauty duality of love so eloquently expressed, as in Jefery Levy’sThe Key. Every frame a poem, The Key reminds us why we love cinema.”
–Andrew Bloomenthal
Creative Screenwriting

“A riveting, bold and compelling celluloid examination of erotic desire, with The Key director Jefery Levy has constructed a gripping cinematic tour de force that cannot be missed. In one of the best performances of her stellar career, Bai Ling gives a jaw-droppingly stunning performance in The Key. Her sexually-charged performance will leave you breathless…David Arquette delivers a solid and enthralling performance in The Key. Undeniably sexy and seductive, Arquette’s performance in The Key is a true revelation. A deeply moving and absorbing portrayal….”
Earl Dittman in Digital Journal

‘The Key’ is a visual and spiritual force of nature. Each frame drips with new and unique contemporary art imagery, utilizing both beautiful and terrifying hallucinations. Director Jefery Levy brilliantly exposes the lust, love and jealousy wading in the deepest untold corners of our souls and makes it a truly stimulating experience.
– Nick Leyland


A Review of “The Key” A Deviously Erotic Story Of The Manipulation Of A Marriage

The Art Of Monteque / October 9, 2015

By: Austin Winter-Chase

THE KEY is an ambitious film, both technically and emotionally, and exactly the kind of film I have always wanted to make. Technology now provides me (and all filmmakers) with the tools to finally fulfill my vision, and I’m so looking forward to what the future holds for us all. Jefery Levy, Director

Jefery Levy’’s 2014 film “The Key” is a adaptation based on the legendary Japanese Novel “The Key” (1955) by Nobel Prize Laureate Junichiro Tanizaki. Jefery Levy’’s film “The Key”  is a abstract psychological story of  obsession, love, devotion, hatred, sex and ultimately power.  At the base of the story is the key. The key is needed to unlock that which is unaccessible  and unattainable.  The story of “The Key” is masterfully told through interwoven Diaries of a husband and wife, Jack  played by  David Arquette and Ida played by Bai Ling. The depth of both artists in their performances are absolutely profound. After 16 years of marriage both Jack and Ida even with the love they have for each other, they have come to a point of dissatisfaction in their marriage.  Not able to talk to each other they write in their diaries hoping that the other will read it and understand, but not understanding the consequences that will be set into motion once the taboos of their heart are unleashed.  “The Key” is both masterfully and artistically  showcased.  It is a minimalistic cinematic feast for the  mind as well as the eyes  with its  simplistic storytelling and sexually erotic scenes “The Key”  is both daring and thought provoking.  It shows that sometimes the keys that one might be looking for are not necessarily the keys that one needs to unlock what one desires.  At the same time what one desires is not necessarily what one wants. There is beauty in being able to have a conversation among equals in a loving and supportive relationship or marriage. The problems  start to emerge when the communication ceases and all one can do is assume what the other is thinking and that can unlocks a dangerous vortex of unyielding emotions and inexcusable actions. ” The Key”  is a tour de force for  writer/director Jefery Levy’ along with actors David Arquette and Bai Ling.

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The Key 85 min

Director: Jefery Levy’

Jefery Levy’s THE KEY. A review

By FILMCASTLive  |  Posted December 5, 2014  |  Beverly Hills 90210, California

To adapt a book to the screen is not an easy task, some screen writers fail miserably while others succeed garnering accolades from their peers and critics translating the written word to the captivating nuances of the cinematic language.

Moreover, to adapt a visceral descriptive erotic novel into a feature film without falling into the distastes of cheap quasi-pornographic movie making is truly not an easy task to accomplish.

Enter, THE KEY (2014) a feature film adaptation to the screen on the erotic Japanese novel KAGI (1955) by Junichiro Tanizaki, about a middle-aged painter (David Arquette as Jack) who is deeply in love with his younger wife (Bai Ling as Ida) and in spite of that love, they have grown physically and emotionally apart.

As time goes by and to cope with the inadequacies on their ailing marriage, Jack decides to keep a very graphic and erotic journal with daily entries of all kind of sex games he demands from his much younger wife, who complies with her husband’s desires without letting him know she is aware of his plans

In order to maintain creative integrity with Tanizaki’s narrative style of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions, writer/director Jefrey Levy developed the storyline into a juxtaposition of voiceovers and colored moving pictures vignettes, instead of a direct dialogue between characters, alternating between the entries of their private journals.

THE KEY has the flair and flavor of an experimental film by the lengthy use of cinematic techniques like extreme close ups, unusual actors blocking and camera position and lighting schemes.

Notably, the post-production displays a “Sergei Eisenstein montage style” editing, recurrent piano chords musical track and many other visual effects like digital compositing, time passage compression, rotoscoping and frame tinting
to represent the mood and pace of the story and in particular to this film, the emotional state of the characters.

At times, it seems as a modern version of the tinting and special effects adopted in early classic films, used to describe mood and intention of the narrative. But beyond than that, the film proves to be more experiential than experimental, immersing the audience in the voyeuristic colored world of the

The lengthy use of captivating visual effects seems deliberate, but not in any way to showcase CGI/VXF prowess or just to be plainly gimmicky, but to evocate the poetic sensibility underlying the nature of the human condition as described in the context of the storyline. Obviously, director/writer Jefery Levy
conjured this obsessive-self destructive-erotic tale adaptation (about Jack) into a moving redemptive tale of lessons learned (about Ida).

There are two other iterations of The Key produced by earlier filmmakers, namely, Odd Obsession, directed by Kon Ichikawa, a culturally repressed Japanese dramatic adaption of the erotic novel and La Chiave by Tinto Brass, released in 1983, an overly sexual adaptation of the novel in fascist Italy.

Kon Ichikawa won the Jury Prize in Cannes in 1960 and La Chiave achieved domestic financial success in Italy but was considered very scandalous by audiences at large.

THE KEY is Jefery Levy cinematic tour de force, a visually stunning and immersive erotic tale with stellar performances by David Arquette and Bai Ling. The film premiered at the Real Experiment Film Festival on November 21 at the Laemmle Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills.

David Arquette Jack
Bai Ling Ida
Nathan Keyes Kim
Nathalie Love Mia

Written, Directed, and Produced by Jefery Levy
Producer – Susan Traylor
Executive Producer – John Scheide
Executive Producer – Mark Urman
Co-Producer – Tom Sanford
Cinematographer – William MacCollum
Edited – Jefery Levy
Edited – Pablo Espada
Edited – Scott Roon
Casting Director – Johanna Ray
Production Designer – Jessee Clarkson
Costume Designer – Patrick Milani
Co-Costume Designer – Paige Basham
Hair and Make-Up – Gina Nicole Maceri
Visual Effects – Scott Roon
Sound Designer – Jamie Scott


03/01/2016 03:53 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2017

Edgy and Experimental: An Interview With Indie Film Producer, Director, Writer, & Actor Jef Levy

By Jordan Schaul

I”ve heard Jef Levy describe himself as a recluse, and indeed the Los Angeles-based film producer, director, writer and actor may be reclusive and enigmatic, but after a long and illustrious career in television and feature film work, the cinematic scholar continues to make edgy movies.

A former faculty member at USC’s film school, the attorney turned independent film director released two indies last year, which really speak to the scope and breadth of this creative talent in Hollywood. When he says he experiments with film, he means that he explores both with new content and new processes in making movies. Most people think of experimental films in terms of introducing new material, but Levy brings novelty to all aspects of film making.

Levy’s also rather self-reliant. He has his own equipment and his latest work demonstrates an ability to make films at his own studio — his house. His last two films ME and The Key were shot at his home in Beverly Hills. How’s that for making the most of a micro-budget film studio?

Levy is fiercely independent and resourceful and scholarly. In an era when more people have access to making films, we often lose sight of the professional artistic discipline that movie making is and we fail to recognize those formally trained in the craft. I had a chance to talk to Levy about his recent films and his dedication to the profession.

Jordan: I thought it was impressive that you produced a hit show as a graduate student in film school. Most people are lucky to finish a thesis. Is it common for graduate students in film making to see such early success in their career?

Jef: It is not very common, and was especially not common in the early 80s. Also, I was a critical studies major (which is to say, I watched and wrote thousands of films, genres, directors, etc.), which made it even more uncommon. I think I was unconsciously trying to relive my own personal version of the Cahiers du Cinema writers (most of which, after writing about films, went on to direct films in the French new wave).

Jordan: One of your last films The Key was inspired by a book written by a Nobel Laureate. I’ve heard film adaptations of books are challenging endeavors. Is that because it is hard to translate the media accurately or does it just involve an extraordinary attention to detail? What is it?

Jef: This was particularly challenging because I was going to make what is essentially a “silent” film — entirely composed of voiceover, which perfectly played into where I am trying to take my own work. So few films that I see use imagery, images, leitmotifs, etc. (in the way that, for a commercial example, Alfred Hitchcock used to do) – most popular films I see consist mainly of talking heads. I have a literary background (I majored in poetry as an undergrad at UCLA), so I am very obsessed with the use of images and symbols to make meaning — developing visual motifs that express the themes of the film. That is what I tried to do in The Key

Jordan: You produced, directed, wrote and acted in ME and you filmed it out of your house. To me that speaks of thrifty and resourceful film making. People struggle to finance films everyday. I think it is fair to say that as veteran in the industry, you demonstrate that an otherwise expensive craft can be catered to on a very meager budget.

Jef: I have done enough indie film and television to really know how to make resources work. Since the 80s, I dreamed of a time when technology would allow me to be completely and utterly independent. That time is now.

Jordan: ME is an interesting film, pushing the envelope in regard to both content and process. Can you tell us a little bit about the film and what inspired you to create this project?

Jef: While doing research on another project I was writing, I accidentally stumbled across the Truman Syndrome. I was doing camera tests for The Key, and decided to turn the entire testing period into a big experiment. It was only natural that I play Levy. I was terrified of doing a performance art/piece film about myself, but Susan (Traylor), my production partner, really eased me into it. I tried to work as much stuff in about the current popular culture situation as I could.

Jordan: You’ve helped launch the careers of some prominent actors and actresses. Are there any individuals whose story you are really inspired by or anyone that you are particularly proud to have worked with? Are there any people in the business that you’d particularly like to collaborate with in the future?

Jef: I think the Heath Ledger story is particularly interesting, and should be the subject of an entire interview with regard to my personal taste. I love big commercial films as much as I love small personal, interestingly done “art” films — I really enjoy the films of all the usual American suspects — Spielberg, Scorcese, Tarantino, Abrams, Soderbergh, Ridley Scott (Tony was a good friend) etc. And I would love to work with any of the director driven production companies. I have never done a genre film and am dying to do one, but I need a bit of a budget for that kind of production.

Jordan: I have to ask how receptive your family is to having the home converted into multiple movie sets in the span of few years. Your wife Pamela Skaist Levy has a busy career herself and I imagine must cater to guests of professional and personal interest. Is is chaotic and at all inconvenient filming at your house?

Jef: We shoot a Wednesday to Sunday schedule — Euro hours (12-12). On Fridays, during production, I get my wife and son to leave and spend the weekend at the beach — so we have managed to work out strategy. I built a sound recording and design studio, as well as two 4K editing suites away from the house, so post production is completely non invasive to my family.

Jordan: Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regard to film making?

Jef: Yes, I am doing two film projects this year — both of which are currently casting. Ziggy Eisenstein is a script I originally wrote for Sandra Bullock and her then boyfriend Tate Donovan (he was one of the stars of my second film Inside Monkey Zetterland — and they were living together at the time). I have been working on
that script for 25 years. The other film, which I am going to shoot first, is a very experimental film about a brother and sister (just two characters in the entire film) — and that is about all I can say about it right now. I think I have the cast in place, but still need to deal with contracts, etc.