Customer Review

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please no more biopix, 26 July 2010
This review is from: Henry And June [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
This film is a two-hour reminder of that grim, grim era in cinema that immediately preceded the coming of Tarantino and the "Boogie Nights" crowd. Its only possible justification is that it forces you to ask so many questions. Why make a film about "real lives" when you could make something up that has a real story? Uma Thurman's presence in this film reminds us of her appearance in "Liaisons Dangereuses" only by contrast. Why is "Henry and June" turgid and "Liaisons Dangereuses" continually entertaining? Because Laclos sat down and made up "Liaisons Dangereuses", whereas "Henry and June" is meant in some way to reflect "what really happened", a spurious concept at the best of times but here taken to ludicrous extremes. Nothing, in fact, is what happens for long stretches - or, to put it more kindly, the same thing happens again and again. And then why make a film about sex that is so unbearably coy? The camera looks coldly on while Anais, played by Maria de Medeiros, "discovers" her sexual self, a process that involves a great deal of balletic heaving in the arms of Fred Ward, who plays Henry. Why have sex scenes at all, if they are not really part of a story and have none of the erotic detail that would make them actually sexy? And then a question that pursues the watcher throughout the film is, "Why make a film about Henry Miller and Anais Nin? I mean, who were they, even?" This is not a question that the film even tries to answer. Although they are both cult writers - and that, I should have thought, was their point - the film entirely fails to introduce them as anything other than interestingly dressed people with typewriters who talk about sex a lot. At one point, we hear the title, "Tropic of Cancer". Some 45 minutes later, Henry writes it down on a piece of paper and puts that piece of paper on top of a vast ream of other, typewritten, pages. So there we have it - he is the famous author of "Tropic of Cancer". And that is as far as we get. Another question that arose, for me at least, was whether we were supposed to find the goggle-eyed performance of the miniscule Maria de Medeiros alluring? It does not help that she is paired with two supremely inflexible actors in Fred Ward and the thoroughly miscast Richard E Grant. With a different script, I can see how her gamine charms might have worked - but the script leaves her with nothing to do but gaze vaguely camerawards, thinking we know not what and emoting, but again obscurely. Uma Thurman is appalling as June, giving the impression that she can barely be bothered to stay in character - a laziness that is a default mode for her under bad directors. When these two actresses appeared together again a few years later in "Pulp Fiction", it was to much greater effect. But there you are - see what a difference a real story makes!
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3.0 out of 5 stars (22 customer reviews)
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