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White Palace [DVD] 
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James Spader plays Max, a young but widowed advertising executive who leads a sterile, passionless life until he falls for working-class waitress Nora (Susan Sarandon), 15 years his senior. A torrid affair ensues, but will their differences in age, class and temperament prove insurmountable in the long run?
Glenn Savan's depressing and self-loathing novel about a 27-year-old upper-class Jewish widower mired in self-pity after his beloved wife dies, and who finds love and sexual rebirth with a trailer-trash older woman, was brought to the big screen by the competent director Luis Mandoki (When a Man Loves a Woman, Message in a Bottle). But the savage irony in Savan's book has been face-lifted by screenwriters Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs) and Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People) into something else entirely: what passes for low-rent "slumming" in Hollywood means hiring sexy Susan Sarandon to play Nora Baker, the poor, uneducated 43-year-old waitress in a White Palace burger joint who strikes up an unlikely relationship with sad Max Baron (James Spader). Widower Max attends a bachelor party for best pal Neil (Jason Alexander) and discovers that the local White Palace has stiffed the boys a whopping six burgers. Max barges into the joint, bent on getting his money back, and meets a testy Nora, who is bemused at the young man's insolence. While driving home, Max stops abruptly at a bar for a drink. Inside, Nora is nursing a vodka and takes a shine to the tuxedo-clad, handsome, and morose younger man. He gives her a lift, she seduces him, and the rest of the movie examines how two such opposites in manners and morals can find happiness. The only common bond they have is great sex and a private tragedy. White Palace nudges at the dark journey and the smashing of illusion that was at the heart of the novel, but there is still a fairy-tale element to the film that negates the earthy essence that distinguished the book. In Mandoki's vision, White Palace is about overcoming class, family, and outside opinion to find true love. In Savan's book, Max wastes into decline while Nora ultimately thrives in the quest for truth, redemption, and self-forgiveness. She becomes his salvation only after he stops hating himself. But mainstream Hollywood shuns making "protagonists" so mad, bad, or sad, and as such, too much glitter is tossed on Spader, while Sarandon, as usual, is the only one who seems to embody and understand her character's angst. She deserved her Oscar for Nora, not the nun in Dead Man Walking. --Paula Nechak --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I thought the two central performances were excellent, powerful performances from both Max (Spader) as the grieving widower and Nora (Sarandon) as the blowsy fortysomething waitress. The supporting actors were good too and special mention must be made of Nora's psychic mother. The sex scenes were erotic without being too explicit and the passion was pretty evident. The ending was fairly cliched, but that's Hollywood for you!
This film wins because it doesn't try to gloss over anything. The case of a younger man (James Spader) distressed had losing his wife is accurately portrayed as is the lead up to his meeting the older woman convincingly acted by Susan Sarandon. Not only is she at least 15 years older than him, she is also not up to the level of his social strata. Realising this, she tries to disappear, but he eventually finds her again and love triumphs.
We may well ask: all very well, but will it last? Well, of course, we don't need to know that. What we do know is that this kind of match certainly does last for some couples. If it lasted for Samuel Johnson, it can last for others. Anyway, it's a lovely, well made, well acted film. I've had my copy of it for some time now and I've watched it several times. It's the kind of film that inspires us to always strive to overcome problems and do better with our lives.
I like both Susan and James as actors. Their onscreen chemistry in this film is believable. James' character Max, lost his wife at a young age. He's Jewish. He meets Sarandon's character Nora in a bar and she gets him drunk. He goes home with her and they have sex but there isn't much of a connection because he's thinking of his late wife. However, he returns again so she makes him aware of her age (she's 43, he's 27). At first it seems like he's just using her for sex but a relationship develops between them and he learns that Nora has also experienced loss in her life. They are complete opposites but somehow they connect.
Nora begins to realise that Max is keeping her a secret from his friends and family so when she confronts him he lets her meet them which is a cringeworthy encounter! Watching this again, it didn't seem dated. Although I'm sure when I first watched it, it was an 18 Certificate but how times have changed as the sex scenes now seem tame and it's a 15 certificate!
Enjoyable romantic film.
Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon) is a 43 years old waitress working at a hamburger joint called "The White Palace" and Max Baron (James Spader) is a successful 27 years old advertising executive. The film shows how they accidentally meet and how their relationship develops. I had, however, a rather strange feeling, as the film went on, that the relationship was doomed: As individuals, they both had to carry their own emotional baggage and, beside the relatively unimportant age difference, they led distinctively contrasting lifestyles, and had very different backgrounds. For me the movie would have made a more realistic sense, had it ended differently. But the film ending is pure Hollywood.
The director, Luis Mandoki, did a decent job in adapting Glenn Savan's novel to the screen, while the two leads were rather good. Sarandon was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (1991), but won the London Critics Circle Film Award (1992) for her portrayal of Nora. The Movie grossed $ 17,487,531 in the US.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Came very quickly good condition good price no problems thanksPublished 1 month ago by C. J. Branton
Sorry for such a delay. Everything is more than OK with the seller and the movie itself :-) you have my honest recommendation :-)Published 1 month ago by Kachula
Have spent ages trying to find this film, has been a favourite for years, was as good as I remembered.Published 7 months ago by P, TW