29 December 1998 | DomiMMHS
I can tell you: Wonderful! On the other hand...
The mirror has two faces: Barbra Streisand and ... surprise! ... Barbra Streisand! More explicit: the funny Barbra Streisand and the divine Barbra Streisand. Well, this miraculous metamorphosis is of course kind of disgusting and I wouldn't be the first person to argue that Barbra Streisand has a tendency to fancy herself pretty much (and I myself was already able to tell so from the unnecessarily long ending of "The Prince of Tides" - a very good movie). But as annoying as it may sometimes be, this is an extremely well-done and multi-faceted movie. Let me try to tell you, why I voted "7".
It starts rather mediocre when Streisand and Jeff Bridges get to know each other, talk some silly stuff and behave like little children. From time to time it gives a number of very good lines to Lauren Bacall, who is perfect as Streisand's mother. By the time Streisand and Bridges get married you are tempted to say: "Yes, very nice, but it's crap actually, isn't it?" But you won't think of saying that in the end.
The movie is a romantic comedy - containing a couple of cliches, fine - but with a new, non-cliche structure. This is no kitsch, not at all, oh no! Instead, it's made up of very good lines and very truthful moments. These are connected in a way that makes our emotion rise but leaves us unable to tell which words, which gestures made it rise. How come? The romance doesn't develop in the way we would expect it and have seen it many times before, no, this romantic comedy goes the long way round: First there is only a small deal of attraction, then there is previously unknown disillusionment - a black hole almost - and then love enters the stage. The final romantic scene fits into romantic comedy conventions, but it also fits into the picture and Streisand and Bridges deserve it. What a wonderful movie!
Basically Barbra Streisand is a good actress, but she loves exaggerating. She is able to manage difficult scenes, but she tries to be funny where being funny can't work and sometimes she's just hopping through the scene like a twittering sparrow instead of performing the emotions required for that scene. And after her metamorphosis she's more interested in her make-up than in her character.
Lauren Bacall plays a mean, self-addicted and vain old beast with a heart and a vulnerable soul. The scene where mother and daughter talk openly in the kitchen is wonderful. Even Pierce Brosnan is better than I would have expected.
Finally, the movie shows us the great versatility of Jeff Bridges: you've never seen him so very soft before (rude as he was in "The Fabulous Baker Boys", cool in "Nadine" or smooth and evil in "Jagged Edge"). However, he is exaggerating, too: which man can act this untruthful and affected?! In the scenes from Streisand's and his marriage his character is almost eerie - may this be good or bad for the movie...