29 September 2000 | FlickJunkie-2
Misguided presentation of an interesting psychodrama
How much one enjoys this film depends greatly on how much of Demi Moore you can stand. If you like long drawn out schmaltzy romances with Demi as the romantic heroine, you will love this film times two. Otherwise, hide any weapons lest you begin attacking your screen.
This film was toasted by the critics, but I didn't think it was that bad. In fact, I liked it. I guess I fall more into the first (sucker for schmaltz) category. The story was criticized as being a contrived version of `Me, Myself and I', where a woman is torn over the choice between life as a professional and the family shtick. That criticism really misses the point. This is a story about a woman's psychological attempt to deal with her traumatic past and has nothing whatever to do with lifestyle choices.
I found this to be an intelligent and complex character study of a woman who seems to be two people living two lives, but really isn't. If that seems cryptic, see the film and it might become clearer. When she goes to sleep from her life with her children in France, she wakes up to her high-powered career in New York and vice versa. She can't determine which is real and which is a fantasy. She has a lover in each life and both seem very real to her. As the story unfolds, she and we try to figure out which is her real life and which is the dream.
The trouble with the presentation is that its real intrigue lies with the psychodrama. Unfortunately, neophyte director Alain Berliner pushed that element to the background and cranked up the schmaltz machine, centering the story on the romances instead. That wouldn't have been so bad if they weren't so interminable. Scene after scene retraced the same romantic theme, until it became frayed.
Other than the misplaced emphasis, the film was well crafted. There were subtle hints throughout about which was the real life, but they were far from obvious tip-offs. However, when we finally discover the truth, it takes forever to wrap up the loose ends. To Berliner's credit, the locations were breathtaking, in both France and New York. It is easy to find beauty in the French countryside, but these were some of the most wonderful film perspectives I have ever seen of New York's skyline and street vistas.
After enjoying a few years as one of the highest paid entertainers on the planet, Demi Moore disappeared for three years. This was probably not the best vehicle for her return. Her performance was strongly emotional but one-dimensional, failing to differentiate the characters sufficiently. She played the high-powered NYC girl to be just as wimpy as the insecure girl in France. To be fair however, she created two very appealing and vulnerable romantic characters and deserved better notices than she received.
William Fichtner was not the greatest choice for her NY love interest. Fichtner is better at abrasive antagonist roles and his attempts at sensitivity came across as far too pathetic. Stellan Skarsgard was much better and made a dashing and attractive romantic figure.
This was a good story that took a sentimental detour under the guidance of an inexperienced director. Still, it was engrossing and even touching at times. I rated it a 7/10. Add a point if you like sentimental pieces and subtract at least two if you aren't a Demi Moore fan.