- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jan
Ismail Merchant and James Ivory are back with yet another literary adaptation based on a book about romance and cultural differences,
The curtain opens on the Paris arrival of a young American named Isabel (Kate Hudson), who intends to offer help to her pregnant sister, an aspiring poet named Roxy (Naomi Watts.) Arriving simultaneously with the sudden and unexplained departure of Roxy's husband (Melvil Pompaud), Isabel is just in time to catch her sister as she falls into despair. But her attentions quickly wander. She practically leaps into bed with the first cute boy she meets, and a few days later she's drawn in by the sexual allure of a 55-year-old French senator named Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte), the uncle of Roxy's errant husband.
While Edgar distracts Isabel, Roxy is left in a lonely and despairing plunge. Soon, we are shifting between Isabel's flighty, reckless, infuriatingly shallow antics (which Ivory films with affection and sensual delight), quick admiring close-ups of exquisite French cuisine, and reminders of Roxy's slow disintegration as she learns that love is not something to take lightly. My full review is at Looking Closer.
J. Robert Parks (Phantom Tollbooth) adds further complaint: "Ivory can't decide whether he's directing a breezy French romance, an examination of the differences between American and French views of infidelity, or an analysis of the fine art market. And when the gun gets pulled out in one of the strangest hostage scenes ever filmed, I threw my hands up in disgust."
Anne Navarro (Catholic News Service) says, "The story is disappointingly shallow and surprisingly dark at turns, with underdeveloped characters that fail to involve the audience. As the clunky film laboriously chugs along, the viewer cares less and less about the characters."
But Holly McClure (Crosswalk) concludes, "I enjoyed watching this movie because of the ensemble of interesting characters and light comedy."