20 March 2005 | thoroughly_modern_hillry
Good, not great, Newman/Woodward pairing
As far as pairings of Joanne Woodward and husband Paul Newman go, "A New Kind of Love" lacks the snappy plot and dramatic depth necessary to do its leading actors justice. Woodward steals the show as Sam, a homely and somewhat androgynous fashion designer often mistaken for a man (it's the pageboy haircut and constantly smoldering cigarette in her mouth); Newman is aesthetically pleasing (and alarmingly convincing) in the role of handsome, sarcastic Steve, a New York journalist who pursues more young women than hot story leads.
After an initial awkward opening sequence, the first forty or so minutes of the film are stimulating, with intriguing color schemes and costumes, quick wit and acerbic dialogue, beautiful Parisian scenery and an escalating plot line. Beyond that, however, the plot seems to drag, and frequent unnecessary departures are made from it - the musical montage with Maurice Chevalier, for instance, slows the film down and only serves to severely date the film (not to mention alienate any viewer who is clueless as to who, exactly, Maurice Chevalier is.) Some scenes are played out far beyond their initial artistic effect (the split-screen sequences), while others are confusing and impede the general flow of the storyline (Steve's visions of bawdy tales played out like sports), giving the story an air of ridiculousness instead of credibility.
All in all, this light comedy shines with the sheer romantic energy of Newman and Woodward (I found myself re-watching various parts of the film just to marvel at the undeniable chemistry between the two), but has none of the lasting impact of the pair's other films. It leaves one feeling a bit unsated, perhaps because of the overly-muddled plot that seems to have been convoluted merely to stretch the movie into a 90-minute romp - but the beautiful Woodward sparkles with natural talent, and Newman's on screen presence compliments hers seemingly without effort. Fans of Paul and Joanne will be charmed, but not moved, by this New Kind of Love.