16 December 2002 | ulmerspirit
patience and reward
This unpopular film showcases wonderfully nuanced performances that flesh out a simple story with an interesting twist. Multiple flashbacks (or shifting timescape) delineate the story, making for a complex movie, but the patient viewer is rewarded in the end.
Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, and Lolita Davidovich breathe life into the three corners of a love triangle. Stone is especially good as the calculating Sally, whose formidable personality holds together only at the fast pace of high-end social and professional success. Gere manifests the ambiguity of a man who must choose not only between women but between parts of his soul. Spirited Davidovich is very appealing as a vital woman deeply connected to fundamental contentedness and freedom.
Some philosophy is in order when considering this intimate, thoughtful film. It portrays various aspects of the human condition without embodying them. For instance, Richard Gere plays a man in the grip of profound indecision, but director Mark Rydell's hand is sure and his intent clear (`Whatever you're going to do, do it!'). The movie compresses the many small but meaningful moments that make up a lifetime into a taut montage of images flashing before the viewer's eyes, evoking the close link between life, time, and death. It shows how the simplest, smallest gesture can trigger an epiphany of profound meaning as someone struggles to find clarity in their life. Best of all, the movie illustrates how, even in tragedy, everyone can come away with something positive worth clinging to, whether it's a message on an answering machine, a hurtful letter undelivered, or a plunge into the depths of peace.