Richard (Peter Sarsgaard) is a computer engineer in his twenties who's already a multi-millionaire. In the world of virtual reality, he is a master skilled at clicking his mouse and navigating endlessly through cyberspace. He has very little interest in business and his company's big initial public offering. Richard would rather play video games or watch porno on the computer screen.
He meets Florence (Molly Parker) at a local coffee shop and learns that she has two jobs one as a drummer in a rock band and another as a stripper in an upscale club called Pandora's Box. His libido is aroused when she gives him a lap dance. He asks her to accompany him to Las Vegas and even volunteers to pay her $10,000 for a three-day holiday. Florence agrees to the deal with the following conditions no kissing on the mouth, no talk of feelings, no penetration, her own room, and working hours from 10 PM to 2 AM.
The Center of the World, directed by Wayne Wang (Smoke), is a fascinating film about sexual politics and the games people play with fantasy, power, and the illusion of easy intimacy. The first digital video feature by the award-winning filmmaker makes the most of the tawdry Las Vegas setting where voyeurism, gambling, and sex for cash intertwine in a glittering clamber of unreality.
Although Florence views the trip as a simple business arrangement, Richard forgets that the only reason they're together is the money. He falls in love with her and tries to win her affections. Florence, who enjoys the power she has over Richard, isn't willing to deal with the emotions she begins to feel about him. Their growing uneasiness with each other is amplified by encounters with Brian (Balthazar Getty), a former classmate of his, and Jerri (Carla Gugino), an old friend of hers.
Eknath Easwaran, a spiritual teacher, has written: "When I say I love a person, it means only one thing: that person's happiness, that person's welfare, means more to me than my own." Both Richard and Florence are unable to make this leap of faith.