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Phil Alden Robinson
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Armand Asante must have gained more of an understanding of gender roles from his Italian father than from his Irish mother because he is so much more believable as a hard-boiled macho cop than he would be as a drunken poet. He's got the cop down pat here.
The story starts promisingly enough. Asante doesn't understand or pay attention to his wife, DeAngelo. She dyes her hair and asks him what he thinks about it. "Your hair? What did ya do to your hair?" The guy is genuinely puzzled.
Subsequently, in a wanton moment, DeAngelo agrees to go to the sort of motel room usually called "seedy" with her son's narcissistic basketball coach. She backs out of the affair at the last moment but as she opens the door to leave, a stranger enters with a gun. He robs them both, has them strip, gags and blindfolds them, and then rapes Mrs. Asante. When he's gone, the handsome coach makes an abrupt departure, telling her, "I was never here."
That is, roughly, a half an hour into the film and constitutes its most interesting part. What follows makes "Gone With the Wind" look like a technical manual. Mrs. Asante feels guilty about having been in the motel room with the coach so she concocts a story about having been abducted while alone on the street. Asante becomes suspicious. He begins to tape his wife's phone conversations and follow her around. Meanwhile he has an overly warm relationship with Blair Brown who is in the movie for that sole purpose. Let's not get into it. Several hours later the story gets back on the rails. The rapist, who is given the spiciest lines of dialogue and has a most engaging way of delivering them, kind of while looking like Hume Cronyn, finally reappears and tries blackmailing the wife and the coach. He fails. Assante has a pistol pressed against his neck and the rapist asks, rather reasonably, I thought, "Sir. I mean no offense, but shouldn't it be your wife you shoot instead of me?" And, "I can see, sir, that there is a part of you that is conflicted over killing me. It is that part of your character I would like to address." (Doesnn't do him any good.)
This is a long movie and could, and should, have been cut almost in half without losing a thing. Langeurs are okay if the time is taken up with character development. There are plenty of soft spots in good movies like "Chinatown," where nothing much happens except that Nicholson gets a shave in Barney's barber shop. A five-minute sequence of Nicholson getting shaved, having an argument with another customer, and listening to a joke. There are no such five-minute sequences here to breathe life into what is, in the end, another rather routine cop thriller with a lot of domestic drama padding it out.
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