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|When Will I Be Loved|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr James Toback|
with Neve Campbell, Frederick Weller, Dominic Chianese, Karen Allen, Barry Primus, Michael Mailer, Alex Feldman, James Toback, Ashley Shelton, Lori Singer, Mike Tyson, Damon Dash
release US 10.Sep.04,
Hey good lookin': Weller and Campbell
There's a stimulating improv vibe to this New York drama that helps keep it fresh and lively even as the contrived story and pretentious filmmaking kick in.
Vera (Campbell) is a rich kid who has just moved into a gorgeous Manhattan loft. She's a fast thinker and a straight talker--unpredictable and oddly honest about the way she deals with people. As she settles in, her mover-shaker boyfriend Ford (Weller) is working on his various shady business plans. He's willing to do almost anything to build his bank account, and when an Italian mob boss (Chianese) offers him $100,000 for a night with his girlfriend, he thinks it's a great idea.
The film isn't crossing the same territory as Indecent Proposal; these characters acknowledge that film and deal with the scenario in a very different way. This is more about the way people manipulate and coax each other into getting whatever it is they're looking for in life, often something they can't quite define. It's a rather mean premise--bleak and desperate, like something you'd expect from Neil LaBute. And it feels extremely stagey with its tricky dialog its and the contained sets and cast.
A sharp intelligence in the script is what keeps us watching, layering on the jagged humour and brittle confrontations to explore everyday deceptions, lusts and yearnings. These are extremely strong characters, and they're very well played by Campbell, Weller and Chianese, each of whom adds wrinkles of personality that liven up the interaction. Most of the dialog feels fascinatingly natural, which helps us take the themes on board.
Yet despite the fact that the central character is a very strong woman, the film is essentially a male fantasy. Ford deals in porn and indulges in ludicrous sex; Vera spends much of the film lovingly soaping herself in the shower. And as greed and control become the central factor, the vicious tone is somewhat wearing. Maybe this is true to a degree, but Toback never quite gets under the surface to find a point, so the film ends up feeling rather indulgent and hollow.
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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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