Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tell Me That You Love Me

(Tzipi Trope, 1983)
Here we have something approaching Method soap opera - so felt and so nuanced that for a while you're fooled into thinking it's meaningful. The key is the agonizingly unresolved Andree Pelletier/Kenneth Welsh subplot, which foregrounds the issue of domestic abuse as an outcome of personal trauma and learned non-communication. In this context, the central marital breakdown between ambitious journalist Barbara Williams and jet-setting lawyer Nick Mancuso digs beneath its glamorous trappings and takes on some actual emotional power, attentively performed and mercifully free of hyperbole. The film is so true to its characters and situations that for a while it seems almost organic, embracing struggle amid chaos instead of the usual pat prescriptions. But after Mancuso leaves for New York Williams is saddled with too much meaningful gazing, and her own fleeting and unconvincing descent into abusiveness betrays the narrative's psychological complexities with the usual romance-versus-career trash. The predictable resolution is handled with a surprisingly light touch, but since neither Williams nor the audience has seen the slightest evidence of self-examination on Mancuso's part, it feels false anyway.

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