7 September 2010 | moonspinner55
Self-debasement in the face of illness...
Virtuoso violinist Julie Andrews loses the flexibility of her fingers and hands due to the "creeping paralysis" of multiple sclerosis, relating the loss of making music to a loss of life; she gives away her possessions, her prospects, even her husband (to the hand of his adoring, bespectacled secretary with the great knees). It isn't enough to call "Duet For One" a lousy movie...it is a mesmerizingly wrong-headed movie, and its general stupidity appears entirely intentional. Tom Kempinski adapted his own play with help from Jeremy Lipp and the film's director, Andrei Konchalovsky, and what was an intimate exercise in melodrama has been blown-up into a solipsistic vehicle for the star-lead. Andrews goes through the expected stages of grief, lashing out in her angry-phase at anyone who pities her--but just as quickly tempering her frustration with a second layer of pity for the friend who feels her pain. She tells everyone their business, including her psychoanalyst (whom she 'teaches' in much the same way as the married stud she has picked-up from the streets). Andrews probably felt this role would enable her to give a multi-shaded portrayal of a woman at the end of her tether, yet the film is so condescending to the audience in its view of MS that we never even meet any of the protagonist's doctors; she appears to suffer in a vacuum. According to the writers, the best way to combat the disease is to play matchmaker and then make a clean exit. There is a dream sequence twenty minutes in that is an unfair trick to play on the viewer, while the supporting cast looks drained and drawn by the hard-edged sentimentality (which is relentless). The filmmakers don't appear to know anything about multiple sclerosis, the disease being used as a theme for a study in character. Since that character is viewed as having a monopoly on personal suffering, the picture quickly congeals into the worst kind of pity party--one with crocodile tears. *1/2 from ****